Konrad Emil Bloch Biography

Konrad Bloch, a German American biochemist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1964 for his groundbreaking discoveries in the field of cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism. As a Jew, he was forced to flee Nazi Germany and found refuge in Switzerland and later America, where he became a naturalized citizen. His research in America revolutionized our understanding of how animal cells produce cholesterol and shed light on the role of cholesterol in various diseases. Bloch’s investigations also revealed the importance of the organic molecule cholesterol in the human body and its connection to steroid-related substances. Additionally, he made significant contributions to the study of olefinic fatty acids and the antioxidant glutathione.

Quick Facts

  • German Celebrities Born In January Died At Age: 88
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Lore Teutsch, father: Fritz Bloch, mother: Hedwig née Striemer, children: Peter C. Bloch, Susan E. Bloch
  • Born Country: Poland
  • Biochemists
  • American Men
  • Died on: October 15, 2000
  • Place of death: Lexington, Massachusetts, United States
  • Notable Alumni: Kolegium Carolinum Neisse, Technical University Of Munich
  • Grouping of People: Nobel Laureates In Physiology
  • Cause of Death: Congestive Heart Failure
  • More Facts
  • Education: Columbia University, Technical University Of Munich, Kolegium Carolinum Neisse
  • Awards: Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1964

Childhood & Early Life

He was born on January 21, 1912, in Neisse, Upper Silesia, at that time a part of the German Empire, in a middle-class family to Fritz Bloch and Hedwig née Striemer as their second child. He studied in an elementary school followed by the Realgymnasium. He moved to Munich in 1930 and enrolled at the “Technical University of Munich’ (TUM) to study chemistry and chemical engineering. Soon he became interested in organic chemistry and was highly motivated by the teaching of German organic chemist and Nobel Laureate Hans Fischer. He used to hear great organic chemists like Rudolf Willstätter, Heinrich Wieland and Adolph Windaus while attending the Sessions of the Münchener Chemische Gesellschaft. These great scientists reporting on their research works on enzymes, steroids and porphyrins in such sessions had an immense influence on him.

Career

In 1934 he received the Diplom-Ingenieur in Chemistry. However atrocities of the Nazis against the Jews and rise of Adolf Hitler forced him to leave Germany. Initially he settled in Davos, Switzerland, where he joined the Swiss institute, ‘Schweizerische Forschungsinstitut’ in a temporary position. In this institute he was exposed for the first time to biochemical investigations when he was delegated to examine the phospholipids of tubercle bacilli, the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis. In 1936 he moved to the United States where he joined the ‘Columbia University’ following the advice of late Max Bergmann and receiving generous aid from the ‘Wallerstein Foundation’. He enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the university in the Department of Biochemistry. He came under the guidance of Professor of Biological Chemistry Hans T. Clarke and in 1938 he completed his Ph.D in biochemistry from the university.

Major Works

His work on biosynthesis of cholesterol not only manifested the importance of cholesterol in human body but also contributed towards further research to understand how the human body regulates the level of cholesterol in blood and tissue.

Awards & Achievements

In 1964 he was awarded the ‘Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine’ along with Feodor Lynen.

Personal Life & Legacy

He first met his future wife Lore Teutsch in Munich and married her in the United States in 1941. They were blessed with two children, son, Peter and daughter, Susan. He was a music lover, enjoyed tennis and skiing and was well-known for his modesty. He passed away on October 15, 2000, after suffering congestive heart failure at the ‘Lahey Clinic’ in Burlington, Massachusetts.

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