ASBMB Past Presidents

1985 – Edwin G. Krebs

(b. 1918)



Edwin Gerhard Krebs was born in Lansing, Iowa. He earned his M.D. in 1943 from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating from medical school he completed an 18-month residency in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, and then became a medical officer in the U.S. Navy. He was discharged in 1946, and returned to St. Louis to work with Carl and Gerty Cori. In 1948, Krebs was invited to become an assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He left the University of Washington in 1968 to assume the position of founding chairman of the Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of California, Davis. Eight years later he returned to the University of Washington as chairman of the Department of Pharmacology. Currently, he is a professor emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington.

Together with Edmond H. Fischer, Krebs discovered reversible protein phosphorylation. Krebs also discovered phosphorylase kinase, and cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), which catalyzes the phosphorylation of phosphorylase kinase. As a result of their discoveries, Krebs and Fischer were awarded the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Later, Krebs established what is now known as the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascade. His work on reversible phosphorylation and MAP kinases was the subject of a Journal of Biological Chemistry Classic (1).

Krebs has been awarded several honors in addition to the Nobel Prize. He received the Whitaker Foundation George W. Thorn Award (1983), the American Heart Association Research Achievement Award (1987), the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology 3M Award (1989), the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1989), and the Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry (1991). Krebs was president of the American Society of Biological Chemists in 1985 and was an associate editor for the Journal of Biological Chemistry from 1972 to 1993 and a member of the Journal's editorial board from 1965 to 1970. He was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

1. Kresge, N., Simoni, R. D., and Hill, R. L. (2005) Reversible phosphorylation and kinase cascades: The work of Edwin G. Krebs. J. Biol. Chem. 280 (43)