Adolf Butenandt


Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1939

Born: 24 March 1903, Bremerhaven-Lehe, Germany

Died: 18 January 1995, Munich, Germany

Affiliation at the time of the award: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut (now Max-Planck-Institut) für Biochemie, Berlin-Dahlem, Germany; Berlin University, Berlin, Germany

Prize motivation: “for his work on sex hormones”

Adolf Butenandt was caused by the authorities of his country to decline the award but he later received the diploma and the medal.

Prize share: 1/2


Hormones are substances that transfer signals between the body’s cells and organs and regulate bodily functions. In the 1930s Adolf Butenandt contributed to the mapping of several hormones that specifically apply to men and women, respectively. After determining the composition of the female sex hormone estrogen, he was able to determine the structure for this hormone and a related hormone, estriol. He was also able to produce a male sex hormone in pure form for the first time and to determine its chemical composition. It was named androsterone.

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