Frederick Gowland Hopkins Biography

Fredrick Gowland Hopkins, a renowned biochemist from England, is credited with the discovery of vitamins. Despite initially showing more interest in literature, Hopkins’s fascination with science was sparked by a microscope gifted to him by his mother. His intelligence and passion for research led him to write his first scientific literature at the age of seventeen. After excelling in his studies, Hopkins embarked on an academic career in toxicology and eventually made groundbreaking discoveries in the field of proteins, leading to the discovery of vitamins. His contributions earned him a Nobel Prize and paved the way for further research in the field. Learn more about the life and works of this remarkable scientist.

Quick Facts

  • British Celebrities Born In June
  • Also Known As: Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins
  • Died At Age: 85
  • Family: children: Jacquetta Hawkes
  • Biochemists
  • British Men
  • Died on: May 16, 1947
  • place of death: Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Notable Alumni: Guy’s Hospital
  • Grouping of People: Nobel Laureates In Physiology
  • More Facts
  • education: King’s College London, Guy’s Hospital, Trinity College, Cambridge, University Of London
  • awards: 1929 – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1926 – Copley Medal, Royal Medal

Childhood & Early Life

Frederick Gowland Hopkins was born on June 20, 1861, in Eastbourne, Sussex, England. His father, Frederick Hopkins, was a book seller with a deep interest in science. However, his father passed away when Frederick was still a toddler, and his mother, Elizabeth Gowland Hopkins, took care of his early education in Eastbourne. In 1871, the family moved to Enfield in London, and Frederick enrolled at the City of London School. He excelled academically and graduated with a first class in chemistry at the age of 17.

Education and Career

After leaving school, Hopkins worked as a clerk in an insurance firm before becoming an associate at the Institute of Chemistry. During this time, he conducted research on poisons, which received great appreciation. He also took advantage of the University of London External Programme and earned his B.Sc. in 1888. In 1889, he won the Sir William Gull Studentship and enrolled at Guy’s Hospital to study medicine. He graduated with a degree five years later.

In 1894, Hopkins was appointed as a teacher at Guy’s Hospital, where he taught toxicology. Around the same time, he published an important paper on blood albumins with S. N. Pinkus. In 1898, he was invited by Sir Henry Foster to work at Cambridge University’s Physiological Laboratory, focusing on the chemical aspects of physiology. In 1902, Hopkins was promoted to a reader in biochemistry and conducted his experiments in a small room at the university. He became a Fellow of Trinity College in 1910 and an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College four years later. It was only after 15 years of becoming a Fellow that he finally got his own laboratory at the Sir William Dunn Institute of Biochemistry. Hopkins made significant contributions during World War I by discovering vitamins and improving the nutritional value of margarine.

Major Works and Achievements

One of Hopkins’ major contributions was the discovery of vitamins. He also identified a chemical method for separating tryptophan and studied its structure, which opened new avenues in biochemistry. In 1905, he was inducted into the Royal Society of London, the most prestigious institution of scientists in the United Kingdom. He received the Royal Medal in 1918 and the Copley Medal eight years later. In 1925, King George V knighted him for his contributions to the sciences. In 1929, Hopkins was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize with Christiaan Eijkman.

Personal Life and Legacy

In 1898, Hopkins married Jessie Anne Stevens, and they had daughters together. Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins passed away on May 16, 1947, in Cambridge, and he was buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground.

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