The Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry have been awarded to scientists and researchers who have made significant contributions to biochemistry, molecular biology, and related areas of study. The Nobel Foundation awards the prize annually in recognition of outstanding achievements in chemistry, physics, medicine, literature, and peace.
Biochemistry is a crucial area of study in modern biology, and it is concerned with the chemical processes that occur within living organisms. It has led to important discoveries and innovations, including the development of drugs, the study of genetic disorders, and the understanding of cellular processes.
This article will provide an overview of the Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry awarded from 1901 to 2022, highlighting the contributions of the laureates and the impact of their work on biochemistry.
Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry from 1901 to 1950
Since the inception of the Nobel Prize in 1901, the field of biochemistry has been honored with numerous awards. From the early work on chemical dynamics and osmotic pressure in solutions to the modern-day studies on the structure and function of nucleic acids, biochemistry has undergone a tremendous evolution over the past century.
In the early years of the Nobel Prize, the focus was on the chemistry of organic compounds and enzymes. Hermann Emil Fischer, who won the prize in 1902, made significant contributions to the field of organic chemistry, including the synthesis of glucose and purines.
Eduard Buchner, who won the award in 1907, discovered that fermentation could occur outside living cells, which paved the way for the development of modern biochemistry.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the focus shifted toward studying muscle contraction, enzyme fermentation, and the chemistry of hemoglobin and chlorophyll. Archibald V. Hill and Otto F. Meyerhof, who shared the prize in 1922, studied heat production in muscles and the mechanism of muscle contraction.
Hans Fischer, who won the award in 1930, made significant contributions to studying the structure and synthesis of hemin and chlorophyll.
|Year||Names of Nobel Laureates||Area of Work|
|1901||Jacobus H. van’t Hoff||Laws of chemical dynamics and osmotic pressure in solutions|
|1902||Hermann Emil Fischer||Synthesis of organic compounds and chemistry of enzymes|
|1907||Eduard Buchner||Cell-free fermentation|
|1922||Archibald V. Hill and Otto F. Meyerhof||Production of heat in muscles and mechanism of muscle contraction|
|1929||Arthur Harden and Hans von Euler-Chelpin||Fermentation of sugar and the role of enzymes|
|1930||Hans Fischer||Structure and synthesis of hemin and chlorophyll|
|1931||Carl Neuberg||Chemistry of enzymes and metabolism of carbohydrates|
|1935||Hans Spemann||Development of embryonic cells and the role of the nucleus in cell differentiation|
|1936||Henry Hallett Dale and Otto Loewi||Chemical transmission of nerve impulses|
|1937||Albert Szent-Györgyi||Biological oxidation of foodstuffs and discovery of vitamin C|
|1939||Adolf Butenandt and Leopold Ruzicka||Isolation and synthesis of sex hormones, particularly testosterone|
|1943||George de Hevesy||Development of embryonic cells and role of the nucleus in cell differentiation|
|1944||Joseph Erlanger and Herbert Spencer Gasser||Functions of nerve fibers|
|1945||Artturi Virtanen||Use of isotopes as tracers in the study of chemical processes|
|1946||James B. Sumner, John H. Northrop, and Wendell M. Stanley||Isolation and crystallization of enzymes and viruses|
The 1940s and 1950s saw a significant shift toward studying antibiotics, hormones, and the metabolism of carbohydrates. Selman A. Waksman, who won the prize in 1952, discovered streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis.
Vincent du Vigneaud, who won the prize in 1955, made significant contributions to the chemistry of sulfur compounds, particularly the synthesis of the hormone oxytocin and the antibiotic penicillin.
Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry from 1951 to 1980
In the 1960s and 1970s, the focus shifted toward studying immunology, photosynthesis, and the structure of proteins.
Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Peter Medawar, who shared the prize in 1960, discovered acquired immunological tolerance and the clonal selection theory, laying the foundation for modern immunology.
Melvin Calvin, who won the prize in 1961, discovered the mechanism of photosynthesis, particularly the carbon dioxide assimilation pathway known as the Calvin cycle.
Max F. Perutz and John C. Kendrew, who shared the prize in 1962, determined the structure of proteins by X-ray crystallography.
|Year||Names of Nobel laureates||Area of work|
|1952||Selman A. Waksman||Discovery of streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective against tuberculosis|
|1953||Hans Adolf Krebs||Discovery of the citric acid cycle, a series of chemical reactions that play a central role in cellular respiration|
|1955||Vincent du Vigneaud||Structure of proteins, particularly determination of the amino acid sequence of insulin|
|1958||Frederick Sanger||Discovery of acquired immunological tolerance and the theory of clonal selection, which laid the foundation for modern immunology|
|1960||Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Peter Medawar||Mechanism of photosynthesis, particularly the discovery of carbon dioxide assimilation pathway known as the Calvin cycle|
|1961||Melvin Calvin||Mechanism of photosynthesis, particularly the discovery of the carbon dioxide assimilation pathway known as the Calvin cycle|
|1962||Max F. Perutz and John C. Kendrew||Determination of the structure of proteins by X-ray crystallography|
|1972||Christian B. Anfinsen, Stanford Moore, and William H. Stein||Work on ribonuclease, an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of RNA molecules|
|1977||Roger Guillemin, Andrew Schally, and Rosalyn Yalow||Development of radioimmunoassay, a technique for measuring the concentration of biological molecules|
|1979||Herbert C. Brown and Georg Wittig||Development of methods for the synthesis of organic compounds|
|1980||Paul Berg, Walter Gilbert, and Frederick Sanger||Work on the structure and function of nucleic acids, particularly DNA and RNA|
In the late 20th century, the focus shifted toward studying enzymes, hormones, and the synthesis of organic compounds. Christian B. Anfinsen, Stanford Moore, and William H. Stein, who shared the prize in 1972, worked on ribonuclease, an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of RNA molecules.
Herbert C. Brown and Georg Wittig, who shared the prize in 1979, developed methods for synthesizing organic compounds.
Paul Berg, Walter Gilbert, and Frederick Sanger, who shared the prize in 1980, worked on the structure and function of nucleic acids, particularly DNA and RNA.
Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry from 1980 to 2000
|Year||Names of Nobel laureates||Area of work|
|1981||Kenichi Fukui and Roald Hoffmann||Theoretical studies of the mechanisms of chemical reactions|
|1982||Aaron Klug||Development of crystallographic electron microscopy and its application to biological molecules|
|1983||Barbara McClintock||Discovery of mobile genetic elements, or transposons, in maize|
|1984||Niels K. Jerne, Georges J.F. Köhler, and César Milstein||Theories and methods for producing monoclonal antibodies|
|1985||Herbert A. Hauptman and Jerome Karle||Development of direct methods for the determination of crystal structures|
|1986||Stanley Cohen and Rita Levi-Montalcini||Discovery of growth factors|
|1987||Susumu Tonegawa||Discovery of the genetic mechanism that produces antibody diversity|
|1988||Johann Deisenhofer, Robert Huber, and Hartmut Michel||Determination of the three-dimensional structure of a photosynthetic reaction center|
|1989||Sidney Altman and Thomas R. Cech||Discovery of catalytic properties of RNA|
|1990||Joseph E. Murray and E. Donnall Thomas||Development of organ and cell transplantation|
|1991||Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann||Development of patch clamp technique to study ion channels|
|1992||Edmond H. Fischer and Edwin G. Krebs||Discovery of reversible protein phosphorylation|
|1993||Richard J. Roberts and Phillip A. Sharp||Discovery of split genes and mRNA splicing|
|1994||Alfred G. Gilman and Martin Rodbell||Discovery of G-proteins and their role in signal transduction|
|1995||Edward B. Lewis, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, and Eric F. Wieschaus||Discovery of genetic control of embryonic development|
|1996||Peter C. Doherty and Rolf M. Zinkernagel||Discovery of how the immune system recognizes virus-infected cells|
|1997||Paul D. Boyer and John E. Walker||Elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of ATP|
|1998||Walter Kohn and John A. Pople||Development of computational methods for modeling chemical reactions|
|1999||Günter Blobel||Discovery of the role of signal peptides in protein targeting|
|2000||Alan J. Heeger, Alan G. MacDiarmid, and Hideki Shirakawa||Discovery and development of conductive polymers|
Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry from 2001 to 2022
Here is the list of Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry from 2001 to 2022:
|2001||Leland H. Hartwell, Tim Hunt, and Sir Paul M. Nurse||Discovery of key regulators of the cell cycle|
|2002||John B. Fenn and Koichi Tanaka, Kurt Wüthrich||Development of mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy for analyzing biological molecules|
|2003||Peter Agre and Roderick MacKinnon||Discovery of water channels and the structure and function of ion channels, respectively|
|2004||Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko, and Irwin Rose||Discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation|
|2005||Yves Chauvin, Robert H. Grubbs, and Richard R. Schrock||Development of metathesis in organic synthesis|
|2006||Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello||Discovery of RNA interference (RNAi)|
|2007||Mario R. Capecchi, Sir Martin J. Evans, and Oliver Smithies||Development of gene targeting in mice|
|2008||Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Y. Tsien||Discovery and development of green fluorescent protein (GFP)|
|2009||Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz, and Ada E. Yonath||Determination of the structure and function of the ribosome|
|2010||Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi, and Akira Suzuki||Development of palladium-catalyzed cross coupling in organic synthesis|
|2011||Bruce A. Beutler, Jules A. Hoffmann, and Ralph M. Steinman||Discovery of innate immunity and dendritic cells|
|2012||Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka||Discovery of G protein-coupled receptors|
|2013||James E. Rothman, Randy W. Wetterberg, and Thomas C. Südhof||Discovery of the machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells|
|2014||Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell, and William E. Moerner||Development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy|
|2015||Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich, and Aziz Sancar||Discovery of DNA repair mechanisms|
|2016||Yoshinori Ohsumi||Discovery of autophagy, the process by which cells break down and recycle their own components|
|2017||Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson||Development of cryo-electron microscopy for high-resolution imaging of biomolecules|
|2018||Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith, and Sir Gregory P. Winter||Evolutionary principles in the design of proteins and development of phage display|
|2019||William G. Kaelin Jr., Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe, and Gregg L. Semenza||Discovery of how cells sense and adapt to changes in oxygen availability|
|2020||Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna||Development of the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors for genome editing|
|2021||David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian||Discovery of receptors for temperature and touch, which have helped to explain chronic pain|
|2022||Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan||Development of organocatalysis, a technique for catalyzing chemical reactions using organic molecules as catalysts|
The field of biochemistry has continued to expand and evolve over the years, with discoveries and advancements being made by researchers around the world.
The Nobel Prize in Biochemistry continues to recognize the outstanding achievements of these individuals who have made significant contributions to the field and serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for future generations of scientists. Here is my updated article on Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with images. You can check out now.
Total Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry
As of 2022, 192 Nobel Prizes have been awarded in the field of Biochemistry. The Nobel Prize in Biochemistry was first awarded in 1901 to Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff.
Since then, the prize has been awarded to numerous individuals who have significantly contributed to our understanding of the biochemical world.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who was the first Nobel laureate in biochemistry?
The first Nobel laureate in biochemistry was Eduard Buchner, who was awarded in 1907 for his discovery of cell-free fermentation.
How many women have won the Nobel Prize in Biochemistry?
As of 2022, twelve women have won the Nobel Prize in Biochemistry out of 192 laureates in the field.
What was the most recent discovery recognized by the Nobel Prize in Biochemistry?
The most recent discovery recognized by the Nobel Prize in Biochemistry was the development of organocatalysis by Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan in 2022.
How many times has the Nobel Prize in Biochemistry been awarded to more than one person?
The Nobel Prize in Biochemistry has been awarded jointly to multiple laureates 21 times since its inception in 1901.
Has anyone won the Nobel Prize in Biochemistry more than once?
Several scientists have won the Nobel Prize in Biochemistry more than once, including Frederick Sanger, who won in 1958 and 1980, and John Bardeen, who won in 1956 and 1972 (though the latter was for his work in physics).
How are Nobel laureates in biochemistry selected?
The Nobel Assembly elects the Nobel Prize in Biochemistry at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. The assembly consists of 50 professors in the field of medicine, who are responsible for evaluating and nominating candidates for the award. The Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine then makes the final decision on who will receive the prize.
The Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry have been awarded to numerous brilliant minds over the past century whose pioneering work has dramatically advanced our understanding of the fundamental principles of life.
From elucidating the structure of DNA to uncovering the intricacies of cellular processes, these laureates have made significant contributions to biochemistry, paving the way for countless breakthroughs and discoveries.
As we have seen from the list of Nobel laureates in biochemistry from 1901 to 2022, the field has undergone a remarkable evolution, with new techniques, tools, and approaches constantly being developed.
However, the one constant throughout this time has been the dedication and passion of the researchers who have committed their lives to unravel the mysteries of the biochemical world.
The Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry serve not only as a recognition of their hard work and achievements but also as a source of inspiration for future generations of scientists.
As we continue to delve deeper into the complexities of life, we can only imagine the groundbreaking discoveries that lie ahead, and we can be confident that the contributions of these Nobel laureates will continue to shape the course of scientific inquiry for years to come.