Carl Ferdinand Cori
Born: 5 December 1896, Prague, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic)
Died: 20 October 1984, Cambridge, MA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen"
Field: biochemistry, metabolism, physiology
Prize share: 1/4
Carl Cori was born in Prague in what was then Austria-Hungary. He received his PhD in medicine from the German University of Prague's Medical School in 1920 and married classmate Gerty Radnitz later that same year. The couple moved to Buffalo, New York in the United States in 1922 and began researching the metabolic mechanisms. They later moved to Washington University in St. Louis in 1931 after both were offered positions there, Carl as a professor. A few years after Gerty's death in 1957 Carl married Anne Fitz-Gerald Jones, and later concluded his career at Harvard University.
Carl and Gerty Cori took an interest in how the body utilizes energy. In 1929, they described what is known as the Cori cycle; an important part of metabolism. Lactic acid forms when we use our muscles, which is then converted into glycogen in the liver. Glycogen, in turn, is converted into glucose, which is absorbed by muscle cells. The pair continued to investigate how glycogen is broken down into glucose and, in 1938-1939, were able to both identify the enzyme that initiates the decomposition and also to use the process to create glycogen in a test tube.
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