C. B. Anfinsen

Johns Hopkins University

March 26, 1916 - May 14, 1995

Scientific Discipline: Biochemistry
Membership Type:
Member (elected 1963)

C.B. Anfinsen’s research on the enzyme ribonuclease improved our knowledge of protein structure-function relationships. He denatured the enzyme to its primary structure, its amino acid sequence, and showed that under the right conditions the enzyme could refold into its original conformation while preserving enzyme activity. This illustrated that the primary structure of a protein contains all the information necessary for it to form its final three-dimensional conformation.  For his work with ribonuclease he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Stanford Moore and William Howard Stein in 1972.

Anfinsen earned his undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College in 1937 and his M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1939. That same year, he was granted a fellowship at the American-Scandinavian Foundation. In 1943, Anfinsen received his PhD and began teaching at Harvard University. During his time at Harvard Medical School he taught biochemistry and was a Professor of Biological Chemistry. From 1950 to 1962 he was the Chief of the Laboratory of Cellular Physiology at the National Heart Institute.

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