Feodor Lynen

Feodor Lynen

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1964, jointly with Konrad Bloch
Date of Birth: 06.04.1911
Country: Germany

Biography of Feodor Lynen

Feodor Lynen was a German biochemist and Nobel laureate in Physiology and Medicine in 1964. He was born to Frieda and Wilhelm Lynen, a professor at the Technical University of Munich. Lynen developed an interest in chemistry when his older brother set up a small chemical laboratory at home. He pursued his studies in chemistry under the guidance of Heinrich Wieland at the University of Munich, where he received his doctorate in philosophy in 1937.

During World War II, Lynen was exempted from military service due to a knee injury he sustained while skiing in 1932. In 1942, he became a lecturer at the University of Munich and moved his laboratory to Schendorf, a small village near Munich, due to the destruction of the university's chemical department. After Germany's surrender and proving his political neutrality, Lynen was allowed to resume teaching at the university. In 1947, he became an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Munich and was later appointed as a professor in 1953. The following year, he accepted a position as the director of the Max Planck Institute of Cell Chemistry.

Lynen's research at the University of Munich focused on intermediary metabolism, oxidation and biosynthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol synthesis, and rubber synthesis. He made significant contributions to understanding the metabolic processes involved in cellular energy production and the role of fatty acids and cholesterol in maintaining cellular membrane stability.

One of Lynen's key discoveries was the identification of acetyl-CoA as the active form of acetate, a molecule with two carbon atoms. He also elucidated the biosynthesis of fatty acids, demonstrating how acetyl-CoA is converted into malonyl-CoA, the building block for fatty acid synthesis. Lynen's research also revealed the mechanism of cholesterol biosynthesis, starting with the condensation of two molecules of acetyl-CoA.

Lynen's work on fatty acid and cholesterol metabolism shed light on the underlying mechanisms and regulation of these important biological processes. His research has implications for understanding and treating cardiovascular diseases.

In 1964, Feodor Lynen and Konrad Bloch, a German-born biochemist who emigrated to the United States, were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the mechanism and regulation of cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism."

Lynen was known for his warmth, sociability, and love for life. He was regarded as an inspiring leader and had the ability to motivate and guide his colleagues. Lynen served as the acting director of the Max Planck Institute from 1974 to 1976. He passed away in 1979 after undergoing surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Throughout his career, Lynen received numerous awards and honors, including the Carl Neuberg Medal from the American Society of European Chemists in 1954 and the inaugural Otto Warburg Medal from the German Society of Biochemistry in 1963. He was a member of several scientific societies and received honorary degrees from seven universities.