Born: 20 May 1860, Munich, Bavaria (now Germany)
Died: 13 August 1917, Focsani, Romania
Affiliation at the time of the award: Landwirtschaftliche Hochschule (Agricultural College), Berlin, Germany
Prize motivation: "for his biochemical researches and his discovery of cell-free fermentation."
Prize share: 1/1
During the 19th century it was discovered that microorganisms were behind biochemical processes, such as fermentation, which is caused by microscopic fungi. This raised questions about whether such processes were a manifestation of a special life force that existed only with living matter. In 1897 Eduard Buchner discovered that yeast extract with no living yeast fungi can form alcohol from a sugar solution. The conclusion was that biochemical processes do not necessarily require living cells, but are driven by special substances, enzymes, formed in cells.