ASBMB Past Presidents

1967 – Konrad E. Bloch

(1912–2000)

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Bloch

Konrad Emil Bloch was born in Neisse, Eastern Germany (now Nysa in Poland). He attended the Technische Hochschule and earned the degree of Diplom-Ingenieur in Chemistry in 1934.He then went to work at the Schweizerisches Höhenforschung's Institut in Davos where he studied the lipids of human tubercle bacilli.

Bloch immigrated to the United States in 1936 and started working with Hans Clarke at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. 18 months later, and was then invited by Rudolf Schoenheimer to join his group. During his first few years at Columbia, Bloch, in collaboration with David Rittenberg, investigated the biosynthesis of cholesterol by using radioactive isotopes. Some of these experiments are featured in a Journal of Biological Chemistry Classic (1).

In 1946, Bloch moved to the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Chicago and then in 1954 to Harvard University. He continued to study fatty acids and cholesterol as well as the enzymatic synthesis of the tripeptide glutathione. Eventually, through the combined efforts of Bloch, John Cornforth, and George Popják, the origin of each of the 27 individual carbon atoms of cholesterol was established. Bloch also aided in the identification of several important landmarks in the series of more than 30 reactions in cholesterol biosynthesis. His work on fatty acids and cholesterol was eventually rewarded when he shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Feodor Lynen.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Bloch was honored as recipient of the following medals and awards: Medal of the Société de Chimie Biologique (1958), Fritzsche Award (American Chemical Society, 1964), Centennial Science Award (University of Notre Dame, 1965), Cardano Medal (Lombardy Academy of Sciences, 1965), Distinguished Service Award (University of Chicago School of Medicine, 1964), and the William Lloyd Evans Award (Ohio State University, 1968). He was president (1967) and secretary (1952–1966) of the American Society of Biological Chemists and was also an associate editor and editorial board member for the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

1. Kresge, N., Simoni, R. D., and Hill, R. L. (2005) The biosynthetic pathway for cholesterol: Konrad Bloch. J. Biol. Chem. 280 (10)