ASBMB Past Presidents

1982 – Irwin Fridovich

(b. 1929)



Irwin Fridovich, President of the American Society of Biological Chemists in 1982, was born in New York City. He received his B.S. from the City College of New York (1951) and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Duke University (1955), working with Philip Handler. He joined the Duke faculty after completing his Ph.D. and has remained at the university ever since. He was named the James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry in 1976 and still holds that title today.

Fridovich is best known for his work on the biology of free radical reactions. In the late 1960s, working with a gallon of blood from a slaughterhouse, he and graduate student Joe M. McCord discovered the superoxide dismutases, a class of enzymes that catalytically eliminate harmful free radicals of oxygen. This work helped to prove the existence of oxygen-free radicals in living systems, and, due in part to Fridovich's work, the term "oxygen-free radical" has entered public awareness. After this initial discovery, Fridovich continued to work on superoxide dismutases, discovering many of the enzymes that are now recognized as members of the superoxide dismutase family. Fridovich's work on superoxide dismutase was featured as a Journal of Biological Chemistry Classic (1).

Fridovich is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was named the Senior Passano Foundation Laureate in 1987, and has received numerous awards including the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology Founders Award (1980), the American Chemical Society Herty Award (1980), the New York Academy of Science Cressy A. Morrison Award (1984), the Franklin Institute Elliott Cresson Medal (1997), and the Duke University Medical Center W. G. Anlyan Lifetime Achievement Award (1998). Fridovich has also been a member of many editorial boards, including those of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Biochemica et Biophysica Acta, the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Biochemical Journal, Bioinorganic Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Analytical Biochemistry.

1. Kresge, N., Simoni, R. D., and Hill, R. L. (2006) Forty years of superoxide dismutase research: The work of Irwin Fridovich. J. Biol. Chem. 281 (22)