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Election Year: 1965
Scientific Discipline: Biochemistry
Membership Type: Member
Irwin Gunsalus made contributions to our knowledge of comparative metabolic patterns and alternate pathways of synthesis and energy release in microorganisms. He identified pyridoxal phosphate, the coenzyme form of vitamin B6, as essential to amino acid metabolism. In addition, he discovered the coenzyme role of lipoic acid in oxidation reduction reactions.
Gunsalus earned his B.S., M.S., and PhD from Cornell University and went on to become a professor of bacteriology there from 1940 to 1947. He was a professor of bacteriology at Indiana State University until 1950 when he began his long career at the University of Illinois where he served as a professor of bacteriology, professor of biochemistry, and head of the division of biochemistry. After retiring from the University of Illinois in 1982, he was the founding director of the United Nations International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.