100th Birthday: Ines Mandl

100th Birthday: Ines Mandl

Author: ChemViews

Ines Mandl, née Hochmuth, was born in Vienna, Austria, on April 19, 1917. Her family fled Austria after the annexation by Germany, first to England, then to Ireland. She studied chemistry at the National University of Ireland in Cork. In 1954, she emigrated to the United States, where she continued her studies at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (today: New York University Tandon School of Engineering, NY, USA). She received her Ph.D. there in 1949 for work on the photochemistry of proteins, peptides, and amino acids.

From 1949 until her retirement in 1986, Ines Mandl worked at Columbia University, New York, NY, USA, first as a Research Associate, from 1956 to 1973 as Assistant Professor, from 1973 to 1976 as Associate Professor, and from 1976 to 1986 as Professor. Here, she was the first researcher to isolate the enzyme collagenase from the bacterium Clostridium histolyticum.

Collagenase (pictured above) breaks the peptide bonds in collagen, a structural protein in connective tissue. The enzyme can be used to treat burn wounds, bed sores, herniated discs, and some connective tissue diseases, such as Dupuytren’s contracture, in which an excess of collagen causes permanently clenched fingers. Her later research included work on elastin and elastase and on the role of elastin in pulmonary emphysema.

Ines Mandl founded the journal Connective Tissue Research in 1970. Among other honors, she received the Carl Neuberg Medal from the American Society of European Chemists and Pharmacists in 1977, the Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1983, the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Bordeaux, France. She was a Fellow of the New York Academy of Science and created the Ines Mandl Research Foundation (IMRF), which promotes and supports research in connective tissue diseases. Ines Mandl died on August 5, 2016.

Ines Mandl is the answer to Guess the Chemist (64).


Selected Publications by Ines Mandl


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