February 2010

Edwin G. Krebs (1918–2009)

Krebs received many major scientific awards for his insights into the principles governing cellular regulation in health and disease. Among those honors were election to the National Academy of Sciences (1973), the Passano Foundation Award (1988), the Horwitz Prize (1989), the Lasker Research Award (1989), the 3M Life Sciences Award (1989) and the Welch Award in Chemistry (1991). At age 74, he and Edmond Fischer were honored with the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery they made almost 40 years before and its ongoing influence in many scientific and biomedical fields.

In 1997, Ed finally closed his lab but remained a fully committed ambassador for biomedical research at the University of Washington. He was frequently spotted wandering the halls of the medical center on his way to hear the latest and greatest results in a research seminar. Ed is survived by his wife of 64 years, Virgina (Deedy) Krebs, children Sally, Robert and Martha and several grandchildren.

Edwin G. Krebs will certainly be remembered for his keen intellect, astonishing research productivity and iconic status within the biomedical research community. He was a beloved mentor to numerous students and postdoctoral fellows. Those who were privileged to work closely with him will remember him fondly as a kind and gentle mentor who passed on extraordinary insights in a quiet and dignified manner. The legacy of this self-proclaimed “reluctant biochemist” should be a wonderful inspiration to the next generation of our profession.

Below, we offer reflections from several of Krebs’ friends and colleagues.

I was very saddened by the passing of Ed Krebs. Even though I had not seen Ed for several years, I still considered him a close friend.

We are all familiar with his monumental work on protein phosphorylation. Less known is his importance to biochemistry as a member of the editorial board and as an associate editor of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. His influence on the development and operations of the JBC was particularly important during this period of rapid expansion for the journal. We always depended on his advice and thoughtful consideration both on the overall operation of the journal and on the review of specific manuscripts. Authors often commented on the thoroughness and fairness of his reviews.

We had many wonderful interactions over the years, due in large part to his commitment to the JBC. Ed was a superb scientist and a nice person, and I— and all of the associate editors— feel lucky to have known and worked with him.

Herbert Tabor
Journal of Biological Chemistry


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I performed 2 years of post doctoral research on rabbit heart phosphorylase under Doctor Krebs. I still feel that I am a student learning of new advances in biochemistry from him. I was deeply moved and saddened to read of his passing. Louis Schliselfeld


I was deeply moved by the passing of Ed Krebs. John Scott captured what we all who knew him feel at his passing. Like many, we learned of his great joy of science and boundless ability to encourage the best science through his role as an editor. Later, at meetings of the editorial board of The JBC, I was able truly to appreciate his insights and to value his advice to me concerning my career path. Few will be as sorely missed as Ed Krebs. He left a legacy that we both admire and should try to emulate in some modest way. Craig C. Malbon Leading Professor and Director, DMDRC Department of Pharmacology SUNY-Stony Brook



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