50th Anniversary: Hans von Euler-Chelpin's Death

  • Author: ChemViews
  • Published Date: 06 November 2014
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
thumbnail image: 50th Anniversary: Hans von Euler-Chelpin's Death

Hans von Euler-Chelpin was born on February 15, 1873 in Augsburg, Germany. He first studied art at the Munich Academy of Painting, where he became interested in color theory. This led him to pursue science, and he subsequently attended the University of Berlin, Germany, and studied chemistry and physics, among others under Emil Fischer and Max Planck. He received his doctorate there in 1895.


From 1896 to 1897, von Euler-Chelpin worked under W. Nernst at the University of Göttingen, Germany, and later joined Svante Arrhenius in Stockholm, Sweden. He was appointed Privatdozent at the Royal University of Stockholm in 1899. He became a Swedish citizen in 1902, yet did voluntary military service for Germany during the First World War.


Von Euler-Chelpin took an interest in organic chemistry, and in 1906, was appointed Professor of General and Organic Chemistry at the Royal University of Stockholm. His research in the following years was increasingly concerned with biochemical questions. During the years 1925–1930, he mainly worked on the chemistry of enzymes. In 1929, he became director of the newly founded Vitamin Institute and Institute of Biochemistry in Stockholm. That same year, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Arthur Harden "for their investigations on the fermentation of sugar and fermentative enzymes". Von Euler-Chelpin translated his early interest in inorganic catalysis into insight into enzymatic catalysis. He used enzyme inhibitors to study different stages of fermentation and clarify the role of cozymase in the process.


He was married twice, first to Astrid Cleve, the first woman in Sweden to obtain a doctoral degree in the natural sciences, and later to Elisabeth Baroness of Ugglas. Both Cleve and Ugglas at times collaborated on his research. His son Ulf Svante von Euler shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1970 with Sir Bernard Katz and Julius Axelrod for their work on neurotransmitters.


Von Euler-Chelpin retired in 1941, but continued to work in research, now focusing on cancer and the biochemistry of tumors. He died on November 6, 1964 in Stockholm.


Hans von Euler-Chelpin is the answer to Guess the Chemist (35).


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