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Christian Anfinsen

Christian AnfinsenAKA Christian Boehmer Anfinsen, Jr.

Born: 26-Mar-1916
Birthplace: Monessen, PA
Died: 14-May-1995
Location of death: Randallstown, MD
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Chemist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Protein structure and folding

American biochemist Christian Anfinsen studied the enzyme ribonuclease (RNase), a ubiquitous, stable enzyme present in all living organisms, which degrades ribonucleic acid (RNA) by cleaving the phosphodiester bond into smaller components. Anfinsen's work showed how proteins "fold" three-dimensionally, how the molecular structure of RNase enables its biological function, and how a protein's folding instructions are stored in its sequence of amino acids. He won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1972, an honor shared with Stanford Moore and William H. Stein.

Father: Christian Boehmer Anfinsen (mechanical engineer)
Mother: Sophie Rasmussen Anfinsen
Sister: Carol Anfinsen Weightman
Wife: Florence Kenenger (m. 1941, div. 1978, two daughters, one son)
Daughter: Carol Anfinsen Crafts (physician)
Son: Christian Anfinsen
Daughter: Margot Anfinsen Britton
Wife: Libby Shulman Ely Anfinsen (m. 1979)
Son: Daniel Ely (stepson)
Son: David Ely (stepson)
Son: Mark Ely (stepson)
Daughter: Tobie Beckerman (stepdaughter; physician)

    University: BA, Swarthmore College (1937)
    University: MS Organic Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania (1939)
    Scholar: Carlsberg Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark (1939-40)
    University: PhD Biochemistry, Harvard Medical School (1943)
    Teacher: Biochemistry, Harvard Medical School (1943-47)
    Scholar: Medical Nobel Institute, Stockholm, Sweden (1947-48)
    Teacher: Biochemistry, Harvard Medical School (1948-50)
    Professor: Biological Chemistry, Harvard Medical School (1962-63)
    Professor: Biochemistry, Weizmann Institute of Sciences (1981-82)
    Professor: Biophysical Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University (1982-95)
    Administrator: Board of Governors, Weizmann Institute of Sciences

    National Institutes of Health Director, National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases, 1963-81
    National Institutes of Health Director, Cellular Physiology and Metabolism Lab, National Heart Institute, 1950-62
    Rockefeller Foundation Public Service Award 1954
    Guggenheim Fellowship 1957
    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1972 (with Stanford Moore and William H. Stein)
    National Library of Medicine Award 1986
    American Cancer Society Senior Fellow, 1947-48
    American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology President, 1971-72
    National Academy of Sciences 1963
    Pontifical Academy of Sciences
    Royal Danish Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 1964
    Advances in Protein Chemistry Editor
    Journal of Biological Chemistry Editorial Board
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Editorial Board
    Converted to Judaism 1979
    Heart Attack 14-May-1995 (fatal)
    Norwegian Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Smoking

Author of books:
The Molecular Basis of Evolution (1959)


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