James B. Sumner

Facts

James Batcheller Sumner

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

James Batcheller Sumner

Born: 19 November 1887, Canton, MA, USA

Died: 12 August 1955, Buffalo, NY, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

Prize motivation: "for his discovery that enzymes can be crystallized."

Prize share: 1/2

Work

At the end of the 19th century, it became clear that biochemical processes do not necessarily require living cells, but are driven by special substances, enzymes, formed in cells. However, it remained to be seen how pure forms of these enzymes could be isolated. James Sumner studied the enzyme urease, which breaks down urine into ammonia and carbon dioxide. In 1926 he succeeded in isolating crystals with high activity from a kind of bean. Continued research indicated that the crystals were composed of a pure form of urease and that urease is a protein.

To cite this section
MLA style: James B. Sumner – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2018. Mon. 12 Nov 2018. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/1946/sumner/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.