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Karl August Folkers (September 1, 1906 – December 7, 1997) was an American biochemist who made major contributions to the isolation and identification of bioactive natural products.[1][2]

Karl August Folkers
Karl August Folkers.jpg
Karl August Folkers
Born(1906-09-01)September 1, 1906
DiedDecember 7, 1997(1997-12-07) (aged 91)
Known forvitamin B-12
AwardsACS Award in Pure Chemistry (1941)
Perkin Medal (1960)
Welch Award (1972)
Priestley Medal (1986)
National Medal of Science (1990)
Scientific career


His career was mainly spent at Merck. He played a prominent role in the isolation of vitamin B12, which is one of the most structural complex of the vitamins. As a Merck Pharmaceuticals research team, Folkers, Fern P. Rathe, and Edward Anthony Kaczka were the first to isolate the antibiotic cathomycin in 1955.[3] His team also isolated the antibiotic cycloserine.[4] In 1958 his Merck team determined the structure of coenzyme Q10.[5]

In recognition for his scientific contributions, he received the Perkin Medal in 1960,[6] the William H. Nichols Medal in 1967,[7] the Priestley Medal in 1986, and the National Medal of Science in 1990.


  1. ^ Shive, William (2002). "Karl August Folkers, September 1, 1906 – December 9, 1997". Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. 81: 100–14. PMID 12661556.
  2. ^ Olson, R E (September 1, 2001). "Karl August Folkers (1906–1997)". Journal of Nutrition. 131 (9): 2227–30. PMID 11533258.
  3. ^ Acc. 90-105 - Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Smithsonian Institution Archives. Accessed 29 July 2013.
  4. ^ Kuehl, Frederick A., Jr.; Wolf, Frank J.; Trenner, Nelson R.; Peck, Robert L.; Buhs, Rudolf P.; Putter, Irvin; Ormond, Robert; Lyons, John E.; Chaiet, Louis; Howe, Eugene; Hunnewell, Berl D.; Downing, Geo.; Newstead, E.; Folkers, Karl "D-4-Amino-3-isoxazolidinone, a new antibiotic" Journal of the American Chemical Society 1955, vol. 77, pp. 2344-5. doi:10.1021/ja01613a105. Stammer, Charles H.; Wilson, Andrew N.; Holly, Frederick W.; Folkers, Karl "Synthesis of D-4-amino-3-isoxazolidinone" Journal of the American Chemical Society 1955, volume 77, 2346-7. doi:10.1021/ja01613a107
  5. ^ History of CoQ10
  6. ^ "SCI Perkin Medal". Science History Institute. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  7. ^

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