Christian B. Anfinsen
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1972
Born: 26 March 1916, Monessen, PA, USA
Died: 14 May 1995, Randallstown, MD, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
Prize motivation: “for his work on ribonuclease, especially concerning the connection between the amino acid sequence and the biologically active conformation”
Prize share: 1/2
The genetic information of an organism is stored in DNA molecules which, via RNA molecules, are converted during the formation of proteins. Proteins consist of a long chain of amino acids that fold themselves in a special way. The chemical processes inside cells are controlled by a type of protein called enzymes. Christian Anfinsen studied the enzyme ribonuclease, which divides RNA into smaller components. In 1961, Anfinsen proved that the sequence of amino acids, in itself, determines the way the chain folds itself and that no additional genetic information is required in this process.