Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins

Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins

Eastbourne, Eastbourne Borough, East Sussex, England
Death 16 May 1947 (aged 85)
Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Burial Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Plot 2D52
Memorial ID 96738496 · View Source
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Nobel Prize Recipient. He received international acclaim for his research of vitamins, for which he received the 1929 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, sharing the award with the Dutch hygienist Christiann Eijkman. Before receiving the 1929 Nobel Prize, he had been nominated for this award five times before 1928 in this category and once in 1927 for Chemistry. Although Dr James Lind made it known from the 1700s that eating limes would cure a sailor's scurvy, Hopkins' research proved other diseases were cured by “a substance” in food and documented his research. Selling books for income, his father, Frederick Hopkins, was an educated man, especially in science using a microscope, which became Hopkins'. Since his father died when he was an infant, it was his mother, Elizabeth, that furnished him with his basic arts and literature education at home teaching him to write pose and poetry. In 1871 he moved from the seashore home to London to attend a private school. He received the highest grade in the school in chemistry in 1874, and after an examination at the College of Preceptors, he was given a prize for science. Although an excellent student, he became bored with the classroom and would skip class for a museum tour on his own. At the age of seventeen years old, he finished school and published his first article in the “The Entomologist” on the bombardier beetle. He took a course in chemistry at the Royal School of Mines in Imperial College in London studying under Percy Faraday Frankland and then took the Associateship Examination of the Institute of Chemistry at the University College. Sir. Thomas Stevenson, Home Office Analyst and expert in poisoning was impressed with Hopkins and he gave him a position as an assistant. At the age of twenty-two in 1890, he graduated with a Bachelor's of Science Degree, from the University College of London, graduating in the shortest time on record. Then he entered medical school at Guy's Hospital and given the Sir William Gull Studentship, awarded the Gold Medal for Chemistry, and Honors in Materia Medica. For financial reasons, he was attending school part-time while working for a railroad company. He received his medical degree in 1894. In 1898 he was requested to come to the University of Cambridge to start a chemical physiology class, which is referred today as biochemistry; he did and stayed at Cambridge the rest of his professional life. In 1901, he and S. W. Cole discovered, identified and isolated Amino-acid tryptophan, and in 1903 he co-authored with Edith Wilcock a book on nutritional essentials of amino-acids in the diet. In a 1906 in a lecture to the Society of Public Analyst, he said, “In diseases such as rickets and particularly in scurvy, we have had for long years knowledge of the dietetic factor, but though we know how to benefit these conditions empirically, the real errors in the diet are to this day quite obscure. They are, however, certainly of the kind which comprises these minimal qualitative factors that I am considering.” In 1912 he wrote his most-note-worthy paper, “Feeding Experiments Illustrating the Importance of Accessory Food Factors in Normal Dietaries,” which was published in the “Journal of Physiology.” He confirmed in theory that humans can not live on only protein, carbohydrates and fats, but there are accessory, yet essential, substances or as his colleagues called this theory, the “vitamin hypothesis.” After this paper, he turned to the research of sulfur-containing substances. In 1914, he became the first professor of biochemistry at Cambridge with cellar-like rooms for this new department until 1925. In 1935 as the first college in England, primary biochemistry classes were successfully opened to non-science majors. From May of 1918 to February of 1931, he chaired the Medical Research Committee, which studied Accessory Food Factors. A well-written report from this committee sold 3,500 copies on its first publication, had a second edition in 1924, and a third in 1932. Hopkins wrote the introduction to this report. In all of his career, he published close to 100 papers including scientific communications and addresses to various professional societies. His scientific papers are a credit to his mother's patience and teaching writing at an early age as each paper shows his own literary style, written in a persuasive narrative, every line phrased-well, and had a vast working vocabulary. Besides amino acids in proteins, vitamins and sulfur, he researched the relation between grout and uric acid, lactic acid in metabolism of an exercising muscle, the coloring on a butterfly's wing, and Gluththione, which is the antioxidant in plants and animals preventing damage at the cellular level. Besides being a recipient of the Nobel Prize, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1905 and President of the Royal Society in 1931. He was knighted by King George V and received the Copley Medal from the Royal Society in 1925, and received the most prized of all civil distinction, the Order of the Merit in 1935. He was Chairman of the British Association in 1933, Vice-President of the Chemical Society in 1921, and served as numerous chairman of committees and on boards. He was supportive of female scientists and was a male mentor to the cluster of women biochemists working at Cambridge College under his directions. He retired in 1943 and is remembered for giving inspiration and encouragement to many of his students who became note-worthy scientists in their time. He not only taught what was in the textbook, but questioned what a scientist should know but does not. Seventy-five of his students were professors in colleges around the world at the time of his death. He started his autobiography ten years before his death but never finished it.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: stevenkh1
  • Added: 8 Sep 2012
  • Find a Grave Memorial 96738496
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins (20 Jun 1861–16 May 1947), Find a Grave Memorial no. 96738496, citing Ascension Parish Burial Ground, Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .