William Stein

William Stein

Chemist
Date of Birth: 25.06.1911
Country: USA

Content:
  1. Biography of William Howard Stein
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Career and Research
  4. Nobel Prize and Later Life

Biography of William Howard Stein

William Howard Stein (1911-1980) was an American chemist who made significant contributions to the understanding of the relationship between the chemical structure and catalytic activity of the active center of the ribonuclease molecule. In 1972, Stein and his colleague Stanford Moore were awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work.

Early Life and Education

Stein was born in New York City as the second of three children to businessman Fred M. Stein and Beatrice (Borg) Stein. He attended the Lincoln School at the Teachers College of Columbia University and also took classes at the Phillips Exeter Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. In 1929, he enrolled at Harvard University and earned a Bachelor's degree in chemistry four years later. Initially struggling in his studies, Stein decided to switch to biochemistry and transferred to the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York in 1934.

Career and Research

Stein began working with Stanford Moore at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research under the guidance of Max Bergmann, a renowned protein chemist. During World War II, Stein was involved in research projects related to military purposes for the Office of Scientific Research and Development.

In 1945, Stein returned to the institute and, with the support of its director Herbert Spencer Gasser, resumed his collaboration with Moore on the analysis of amino acids. They focused on studying ribonuclease, an enzyme that plays a crucial role in cellular metabolism. Using a combination of column chromatography and ion-exchange chromatography, they were able to analyze the amino acids that make up the ribonuclease molecule. Their work led to the establishment of the complete sequence of amino acids in ribonuclease, which was the second protein sequence to be determined and the first for an enzyme.

Stein became a professor in 1954 and continued his research on other enzymes, such as pancreatic deoxyribonuclease. He also dedicated a significant portion of his time to the scientific journal "Journal of Biological Chemistry," serving as an editor and later as the chief editor.

Nobel Prize and Later Life

In 1972, Stein and Moore were awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their contributions to understanding the link between the chemical structure and catalytic activity of the active center of the ribonuclease molecule. The other half of the prize was awarded to Christian Anfinsen.

Despite battling a serious illness that left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, Stein remained actively involved in scientific research until his death. He passed away on February 2, 1980, in New York City at the age of 68.

William Howard Stein's groundbreaking work in biochemistry revolutionized our understanding of enzyme structure and function. His contributions to the field continue to have a profound impact on scientific research in the study of proteins and their catalytic activities.

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