Severo Ochoa

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Severo Ochoa (statue)

Severo Ochoa (born September 24, 1905 in Luarca , Asturias , Spain , † November 1, 1993 in Madrid , Spain) was a Spanish - American biochemist . In 1959 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine .


Severo Ochoa was born in Luarca in the Spanish province of Asturias. His father, Severo Manuel Ochoa, a lawyer and businessman, died when Severo Ochoa was seven years old. Together with his mother, Carmen de Albornoz, he then moved to Malaga . He attended school there, which he graduated from in 1921. His interest in biology was stimulated by the work of the Spanish neurologist and Nobel Prize winner Santiago Ramón y Cajal . In 1923 Ochoa went to the Medical Faculty of the University of Madrid , where he hoped to work with Cajal, but he had already left the university. In 1929 Ochoa graduated with honors. Two years later he married Carmen Garcia Cobian. The marriage remained childless.

After completing his studies, a two-year scholarship enabled Ochoa to do research with Otto Meyerhof at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, where he began researching the biochemistry and physiology of muscles from 1929. In 1931 he took a position at the University of Madrid, but soon after went to London. Until 1941, Ochoa held various positions, he worked with different scientists in several places. Then he went to the United States . There he worked at several universities until he finally became Assistant Professor of Biochemistry (1945), Professor of Pharmacology (1946), Professor of Biochemistry (1954), and Director of the Department of Biochemistry at the New York University School of Medicine .

From 1977 Ochoa was a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR and since 1958 a member of the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina . In 1957 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences . Since 1961 he was a member of the American Philosophical Society . In 1963 he gave the Paul Karrer Lecture . In 1979 he received the National Medal of Science .

In 1956 he became an American citizen. In 1985 Ochoa returned to Spain, where he worked as an advisor on Spanish science policy. Ochoa died in Madrid in 1993. A research institute was named after him in his honor.


Ochoa was mainly concerned with enzymatic processes in biological oxidation as well as the generation and transfer of energy. He contributed a lot to the knowledge about the carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism, the carbon dioxide balance and the biosynthesis of nucleic acids. His research included the biological function of vitamin B1, oxidative phosphorylation , the carboxylation of gluconic and pyruvic acid , the photochemical reduction of pyridine - nucleotide in photosynthesis , the key enzyme in the Krebs cycle , the polynucleotide phosphorylase (PNPase) and the genetic code.

In 1959 he and Arthur Kornberg received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the mechanism in the biological synthesis of RNA and DNA .

Ochoa continued his research on protein synthesis and the reproduction of RNA until his return to Spain. He was involved in deciphering the genetic code .


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Member entry of Severo Ochoa at the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina , accessed on October 12, 2012.

Web links

Commons : Severo Ochoa  - Collection of images, videos and audio files