The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959
Severo Ochoa, Arthur Kornberg
Born: 24 September 1905, Luarca, Spain
Died: 1 November 1993, Madrid, Spain
Affiliation at the time of the award: New York University, College of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid"
Severo Ochoa was born at Luarca, Spain, on September 24th, 1905. He is the son of Severo Ochoa, a lawyer and business man, and Carmen de Albornoz.
Ochoa was educated at Málaga College, where he took his B.A. degree in 1921.* His interest in biology was greatly stimulated by the publications of the great Spanish neurologist, Ramón y Cajal, and he went to the Medical School of the University of Madrid, where he obtained his M.D. degree (with honours) in 1929. While he was at the University he was Assistant to Professor Juan Negrin and he paid, during the summer of 1927, a visit to the University of Glasgow to work under Professor D. Noel Paton.
After graduating in 1929 Ochoa went, with the aid of the Spanish Council of Scientific Research, to work under Otto Meyerhof at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Medizinische Forschung at Heidelberg. During this period he worked on the biochemistry and physiology of muscle, and his outlook and training were decisively influenced by Meyerhof.
In 1931, Ochoa was appointed Lecturer in Physiology at the University of Madrid, a post he held until 1935. In 1932 he went to the National Institute for Medical Research, London, where he worked with Dr. H. W. Dudley on his first problem in enzymology.
Returning to Madrid in 1934, he was appointed Lecturer in Physiology and Biochemistry there and later became Head of the Physiology Division of the Institute for Medical Research, Madrid. In 1936 he was appointed Guest Research Assistant in Meyerhof's Laboratory at Heidelberg, where he worked on some of the enzymatic steps of glycolysis and fermentation. In 1937 he held a Ray Lankester Investigatorship at the Plymouth Marine Biological Laboratory and from 1938 until 1941 he worked on the biological function of vitamin B1 with Professor R. A. Peters at Oxford University, where he was appointed Demonstrator and Nuffield Research Assistant.
While he was at Oxford he became interested in the enzymatic mechanisms of oxidative metabolism and in 1941 he went to America and worked, until 1942, at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, where he was appointed Instructor and Research Associate in Pharmacology and worked with Carl and Gerty Cori on problems of enzymology. In 1942 he was appointed Research Associate in Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and there subsequently became Assistant Professor of Biochemistry (1945), Professor of Pharmacology (1946), Professor of Biochemistry (1954), and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry. In 1956 he became an American citizen.
Biographical, Nobel Lecture, Banquet Speech