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Bruce Merrifield

Bruce MerrifieldAKA Robert Bruce Merrifield

Born: 15-Jul-1921
Birthplace: Fort Worth, TX
Died: 14-May-2006
Location of death: Cresskill, NJ
Cause of death: Illness

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Synthesized polypeptides

American biochemist Bruce Merrifield developed a simplified methodology for synthesizing peptides and proteins from amino acids. In a 1963 paper he explained his radical new approach called solid-phase methodology, wherein the last amino acid in a chain is chemically attached to a solid polymer, and relevant amino acids are then chemically linked one by one to generate a growing peptide chain. His system took him years to develop and allowed a more-than-exponential increase in efficiency over previous methods, yet it was so simple that by 1964 Merrifield had built a machine in his basement to automate the process. His work allowed the quick, low-cost manufacture of both natural and synthetic chemical compounds, allowing a multitude of research possibilities, leading to the development of new and more affordable medicines and laying the groundwork for the assembly of DNA molecules and genetic engineering. He won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1984.

Father: George E. Merrifield
Mother: Lorene Lucas
Wife: Elizabeth Furlong (biologist, "Libby", m. 20-Jun-1949, five daughters, one son)
Daughter: Betsy Grindstaff
Daughter: Cathy Edwards
Son: James
Daughter: Laurie Nelson
Daughter: Nancy Waugh
Daughter: Sally Giannandrea

    High School: Montebello High School, Montebello, CA (1939)
    University: Pasadena Junior College (attended, 1939-41)
    University: BS Chemistry, University of California at Los Angeles (1943)
    Scholar: Chemistry, Park Research Foundation (1943-44)
    Medical School: PhD Biochemistry, University of California at Los Angeles (1948-49)
    Scholar: Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (1949-57)
    Teacher: Biochemistry, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (1957-65)
    Teacher: Biochemistry, Rockefeller University (1965-66)
    Professor: Biochemistry, Rockefeller University (1966-84)
    Professor: John D. Rockefeller Jr Professor, Rockefeller University (1984-92)

    Lasker Award 1969
    Gairdner Foundation International Award 1970
    Intra-Science Research Foundation Award 1970
    ACS Award for Creative Research 1972
    ACS William H. Nichols Medal 1973
    APS Alan E. Pierce Award 1979
    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1984
    CMG Albert Abraham Michelson Award 1985
    Royal Society of Chemistry Medal 1987
    ACS Ralph F. Hirschmann Award 1990
    Glenn T. Seaborg Medal 1993
    American Chemical Society
    American Institute of Chemists
    American Peptide Society
    American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    National Academy of Sciences 1972
    International Journal of Peptide and Protein Research Editorial Board
    Journal of Peptide Science Editorial Board
    Alpha Chi Sigma Chemistry Fraternity
    Phi Lambda Upsilon Chemistry Honor Society
    Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
    Risk Factors: Skin Cancer

Author of books:
Life During a Golden Age of Peptide Chemistry (1993)


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