ASBMB Past Presidents

1949 – Carl F. Cori




Carl Ferdinand Cori was born in Prague, Austria-Hungary (in the present-day Czech Republic). He attended the Trieste Gymnasium from 1906 until 1914, interrupting his studies during World War I to serve as a sanitation officer for the Austrian army on the Italian front. In 1914, he enrolled in the German University in Prague to study medicine. He was awarded his M.D. degree in 1920, and moved to Vienna, where he was an assistant in the first medical clinic of the University of Vienna and later an assistant in pharmacology at the University of Graz. Cori emigrated to the United States in 1922 after being invited to take a staff position as a biochemist at the State Institute for the Study of Malignant Disease, later Roswell Park Memorial Institute, in Buffalo, New York. He remained in Buffalo until 1931, when he was appointed professor of pharmacology and head of that department at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1947, he became head of the Department of Biochemistry there. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1966.

Cori and his wife, Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori, are most widely known for their work in carbohydrate metabolism. In St. Louis, the Coris studied glycogen and its conversion into glucose and, in a series of jointly published papers in the 1930s, they outlined their gradual discoveries of the mechanisms underlying the chemical conversion of glycogen by various enzymes and its hydrolysis into glucose. In 1936, they discovered a previously unknown compound, glucose--phosphate, which became known as the Cori-ester. Some of the Coris' work was the subject of a Journal of Biological Chemistry Classic (1). In 1947, the Coris were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Cori was awarded many other honors. He received the Isaac Adler Prize (1943), the Lasker Award of the American Public Health Association (1946), the Sugar Foundation Prize (1947), the Squibb Award of the American Society of Endocrinologists (with Gerty Cori, 1947), and the Willard Gibbs Medal of the American Chemical Society (1948). Cori served as president of the American Society of Biological Chemists in 1949.

1. Simoni, R. D., Hill, R. L., and Vaughan, M. (2002) Epinephrine, the Cori ester, and phosphorylase: The work of Carl and Gerty Cori. J. Biol. Chem. 277 (29)