John Cornforth


John Warcup Cornforth

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John Warcup Cornforth
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1975

Born: 7 September 1917, Sydney, Australia

Died: 8 December 2013

Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom

Prize motivation: “for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalyzed reactions”

Prize share: 1/2


Enzymes are substances that are active in biochemical processes but that are not incorporated into the final product. John Cornforth investigated the structure and transformation of various molecules in such processes, including how an enzyme replaces a certain hydrogen atom in a reacting molecule and what consequences this has. To study this, from the mid-1950s he made use of various isotopes of hydrogen—hydrogen atoms with different weights that also react at different speeds. On the basis of his results, he was able to produce several substances of biological importance.

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