Gregorio Weber

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

July 4, 1916 - July 18, 1997

Election Year: 1975
Scientific Discipline: Biochemistry
Membership Type: Member

Biochemist Gregorio Weber established fluorescent spectroscopy as a viable and accurate method for chemical analysis.  He developed new processes to synthesize fluorescent dyes that allowed for a more precise technique for characterizing molecular structures and bonds.  Using these techniques, Weber was one of the first scientists to demonstrate the existence of weak molecular interactions among aromatic molecules in water.  This led to his discovery of the internal complexes in Flavine-Adenine Dinucleotide and Nicotinamide Dinucleotide, allowing for more detailed explanations of the biological processes they were involved in.  He was also among the first to use energetics, a field of science dealing with the laws of energy and its transformations, in order to investigate the properties of proteins.  Weber developed artificial spectroscopic labelling agents, which he used to refine the theory of fluorescent depolarization by molecular rotations.  He utilized this improved theory to study electronic energy transfers, and he found that energy transfer failed to occur during excitation at the red edge (a region of rapid change in the near-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum).  Weber also used fluorescent techniques to study ligand-protein interactions, and he was able to identify the chemical equilibrium, the polarity and charge of binding sites, and the distribution ratio of ligands among proteins.

Weber received his M.D. from the University of Buenos Aires in 1943 and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge in 1947.  He became a professor of biochemistry at the University of Illinois in 1962, and he continued teaching until his death in 1997.  He was associated with several international organizations, and he was the first National Lecturer of the Biophysical Society.  For his applications of fluorescent spectroscopy to biology and protein chemistry, Weber was the first recipient of the Repligen Award for the Chemistry of Biological Processes from the American Chemical Society in 1986.

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