John E. Walker
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1997
Born: 7 January 1941, Halifax, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: “for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)”
Prize share: 1/4
All life requires energy. In both plants and animals, energy is stored and transported by a special molecule, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Photosynthesis and respiration generate a flow of hydrogen ions, which are used to build up ATP molecules with the help of ATP synthase, an enzyme that facilitates the process without being incorporated in the final product. In 1974 Paul Boyer presented a theory explaining how ATP synthase works. The theory was substantiated in 1994 when John Walker used X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of ATP synthase.