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Richard Johann Kuhn (German pronunciation: [ˈʁɪçaɐ̯t ˈjoːhan ˈkuːn]; 3 December 1900 – 1 August 1967) was an Austrian-German biochemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1938 "for his work on carotenoids and vitamins".

Richard Kuhn
Richard Kuhn ETH-Bib Dia 248-065.jpg
Born Richard Johann Kuhn
(1900-12-03)3 December 1900
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died 1 August 1967(1967-08-01) (aged 66)
Heidelberg, West Germany
Nationality Germany, Austria
Awards
Scientific career
Fields Chemistry

Contents

BiographyEdit

Early lifeEdit

Kuhn was born in Vienna, Austria, where he attended grammar school and high school. His interest in chemistry surfaced early; however he had many interests and decided late to study chemistry. Between 1910 and 1918 he was a schoolmate of Wolfgang Pauli, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1945. Beginning in 1918, Kuhn attended lectures at the University of Vienna in chemistry. He finished his chemistry studies at University of Munich and received his doctoral degree in 1922 with Richard Willstätter for a scientific work on enzymes.

After graduating, Kuhn continued his scientific career, first in Munich, then at the ETH Zurich and from 1929 onwards at the University of Heidelberg, where he was head of the chemistry department beginning in 1937. In 1928 he married Daisy Hartmann and the couple subsequently had two sons and four daughters.

ResearchEdit

 
Kuhn's grave in Heidelberg

Kuhn's areas of study included: investigations of theoretical problems of organic chemistry (stereochemistry of aliphatic and aromatic compounds; syntheses of polyenes and cumulenes; constitution and colour; the acidity of hydrocarbons), as well as extensive fields in biochemistry (carotenoids; flavins; vitamins and enzymes). Specifically, he carried out important work on vitamin B2 and the antidermatitis vitamin B6.

In 1929 he became Principal of the Institute for Chemistry at the newly founded Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research (which, since 1950, has been renamed the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg). By 1937 he also took over the administration of this Institute.

In addition to these duties he also served as of Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Heidelberg, and for one year he was at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, as a Visiting Research Professor for Physiological Chemistry.

He was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1938 for his "work on carotenoids and vitamins," but rejected the prize as Hitler had forbidden German citizens to accept it. In a hand-written letter, he even described the awarding of the prize to a German as an invitation to violate a decree of the Führer.[1][2] He received the award after World War II.[3] Kuhn is also credited with the discovery of the deadly nerve agent Soman in 1944.[4]

Kuhn was editor of Justus Liebigs Annalen der Chemie from 1948.

Kuhn died in 1967 in Heidelberg, Germany, aged 66.

Nazi eraEdit

Kuhn collaborated with high-ranking Nazi officials[5] and denounced three of his Jewish co-workers in 1936.[5]

Honours and awardsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ U. Deichmann, "Dem Duce, dem Tenno und unserem Führer ein dreifaches Heil", published in D. Hoffmann and Mark Walker (eds.), "Physiker zwischen Autonomie und Anpassung" (Weinheim: Wiley-VCH Verlag, 2006).
  2. ^ Sarah Everts, Chemistry In Nazi Germany, Chemical & Engineering News, Volume 91, Issue 37, pp. 30-33, September 16, 2013, American Chemical Society.
  3. ^ "Nobel Laureates Facts". The Nobel Foundation. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
  4. ^ Lukey, Brian J.; Salem, Harry (2007). Chemical Warfare Agents: Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutics. CRC Press. p. 12. ISBN 9781420046618.
  5. ^ a b "Science in the Third Reich", Margit Szöllösi-Janze. Berg Publishers, 2001. ISBN 1-85973-421-9, ISBN 978-1-85973-421-6. Retrieved March 16, 2010.

External linksEdit