Christian Boehmer Anfinsen Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Christian Boehmer Anfinsen

Birthday :

March 26, 1916

Died On :

May 14, 1995

Birth Place :

Monessen, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Zodiac Sign :


Christian Boehmer Anfinsen was born on March 26, 1916. He was an American biochemist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on the structure of enzymes and the relationship between enzyme functions and the amino acid sequence.

Early Life

Christian Boehmer Anfinsen was born on March 26, 1916, in Pennsylvania, United States of America. He was born to Christian Boehmer Anfinsen who was a mechanical engineer and Sophie Rasmussen Anfinsen. He was brought up alongside his sister Carol. In the 1920s his family moved to Philadelphia. He attended Swarthmore College. In 1937, he graduated with a B. S. Degree. He later joined the University of Pennsylvania where he pursued his post-graduate studies. In 1939, he graduated with an M. S. Degree in Organic Chemistry from the university.

Christian Boehmer Anfinsen later worked as an assistant instructor at the university. In 1939, he received a fellowship from the American Scandinavian Foundation. He moved to the Carlsberg Laboratory, Copenhagen where he worked on developing new methods for the analysis of complex protein structures. In 1940, he returned to the United States. He received a university fellowship to study for his doctorate at the Harvard Medical School in the Department of Biological Chemistry. In 1943, he obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry.



In 1943, Christian Boehmer Anfinsen taught biological chemistry at the Harvard Medical School, a post he held up to 1950. In 1944, he worked at a private research post at the Office of Scientific Research and Development, Harvard. In 1947, he worked at the Medical Nobel Institute, Stockholm. In 1950, Christian Boehmer Anfinsen was appointed the director of the Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Metabolism of the National Heart Institute in Maryland. In 1954, he was assisted by the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to move to Carlsberg Laboratory, Copenhagen. In 1958, he joined the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

In 1959, Christian Boehmer Anfinsen published the book ‘The Molecular Basis of Evolution.’ In 1962, he became a member of the board of governors of the Weizmann Institute. He also developed the thermodynamic principle of protein folding in enzymes. In 1962, he was appointed the visiting professor to the Harvard Medical School. Christian Boehmer Anfinsen was also the Chairman of the Department of Biological Chemistry.

In 1963, Christian Boehmer Anfinsen became the chief of the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases’. In 1981, he became the Chief Assistant of a scientific research company ‘Taglit’ in Israel. Christian Boehmer Anfinsen later lost his job because E. F. Hutton withdrew his funding from the project. In 1982, he became a Professor of Biology and Assistant to the President for Industrial Liaison at the John Hopkins University. He was also an editor of the journal ‘Advances in Protein Chemistry’.


Awards And Achievements

In 1963, Christian Boehmer Anfinsen was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. In 1964, he became a member of the Royal Danish Academy. In 1965, he received Honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Swarthmore College. In 1967, he received an honorary doctorate from George Town University. In 1971, he became the President of the American Society of Biological Chemists. In 1972, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


Personal Life

In 1941, Christian Boehmer Anfinsen married Florence Bernice Kenenger with whom he had three children. They divorced in 1978. In 1979, he married Libby Esther Shulman who had four children. He died on May 14, 1995, of a heart attack in Maryland. He died at the age of seventy nine.

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