William H. Stein
Born: 25 June 1911, New York, NY, USA
Died: 2 February 1980, New York, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA
Prize motivation: "for their contribution to the understanding of the connection between chemical structure and catalytic activity of the active centre of the ribonuclease molecule"
Field: analytical biochemistry, biochemistry
Prize share: 1/4
The genetic information of an organism is stored in DNA molecules which, via RNA molecules, are converted during the formation of proteins. The chemical processes inside cells are controlled by a type of protein called enzymes. William Stein and Stanford Moore studied the enzyme ribonuclease, which divides RNA into smaller components. In the late 1950s, the pair succeeded in providing a detailed understanding of the enzyme's active center and in elucidating the connection between the structure of the molecule and its ability to speed up biochemical reactions.