Otto Warburg


Otto Heinrich Warburg

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Otto Heinrich Warburg
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1931

Born: 8 October 1883, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Died: 1 August 1970, West Berlin, West Germany (now Germany)

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

Prize motivation: “for his discovery of the nature and mode of action of the respiratory enzyme”

Prize share: 1/1


In our cells nutrients are broken down so that energy is released for the construction of cells. This respiration requires enzymes, substances that facilitate the process without being incorporated in the final products. Otto Warburg studied the respiration of sea urchins and other organisms at an early stage of development. By measuring oxygen consumption in living cells and studying which enzymes reacted, in 1928 he concluded that the respiration enzyme he was looking for was a red ferrous pigment related to the blood pigment, hemoglobin.

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