The Info List - Albrecht Kossel

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LUDWIG KARL MARTIN LEONHARD ALBRECHT KOSSEL (16 September 1853 – 5 July 1927) was a German biochemist and pioneer in the study of genetics . He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1910 for his work in determining the chemical composition of nucleic acids , the genetic substance of biological cells .

Kossel isolated and described the five organic compounds that are present in nucleic acid : adenine , cytosine , guanine , thymine , and uracil . These compounds were later shown to be nucleobases , and are key in the formation of DNA
and RNA
, the genetic material found in all living cells.

Kossel was an important influence on and collaborator with other important researchers in biochemistry, including Henry Drysdale Dakin , Friedrich Miescher
Friedrich Miescher
, Edwin B. Hart , and his professor and mentor, Felix Hoppe-Seyler
Felix Hoppe-Seyler
. Kossel was editor of the Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie (Journal of Physiological Chemistry) from 1895 until his death.

Kossel also conducted important research into the composition of protein , and his research predicted the discovery of the polypeptide nature of the protein molecule.

The Albrecht Kossel Institute for Neuroregeneration at the University of Rostock
is named in his honor.


* 1 Early life and education * 2 Early research and collaboration * 3 Isolation and description of nucleobases * 4 Research into the chemical composition of protein * 5 Nobel prize * 6 Later research and collaboration * 7 Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie * 8 Personal life * 9 Legacy * 10 Selected works * 11 References


Kossel was born in Rostock
, Germany
as the son of the merchant and Prussian consul Albrecht Karl Ludwig Enoch Kossel and his wife Clara Jeppe Kossel. As a youth, Kossel attended the Gymnasium at Rostock, where he evidenced substantial interest in chemistry and botany.

In 1872, Kossel attended the University of Strassburg to study medicine. He studied under Felix Hoppe-Seyler
Felix Hoppe-Seyler
, who was head of the department of biochemistry, the only such institution in Germany
at the time. He attended lectures by Anton de Bary , Waldeyer , August Kundt , and Baeyer . He completed his studies at University of Rostock , and passed his German medical license exam in 1877.


After completing his university studies, Kossel returned to the University of Strassburg as research assistant to Felix Hoppe-Seyler. At the time, Hoppe-Seyler was intensely interested in research concerning an acidic substance that had first been chemically isolated from pus cells by one of his former students, Friedrich Miescher
Friedrich Miescher
, in 1869. Unlike protein, the substance contained considerable amounts of phosphorus, but with its high acidity, it was unlike any cellular substance that had yet been observed.

Kossel showed that the substance, called "nuclein", consisted of a protein component and a non-protein component. Kossel further isolated and described the non-protein component. This substance has become known as nucleic acid , which contains the genetic information found in all living cells.


In 1883, Kossel left Strassburg to become Director of the Chemistry Division of the Physiological Institute at the University of Berlin
University of Berlin
. In this post, he succeeded Eugen Baumann and worked under the supervision of Emil du Bois-Reymond .

Kossel continued his previous work on the nucleic acids. During the period 1885 to 1901, he was able to isolate and name its five constituent organic compounds : adenine , cytosine , guanine , thymine , and uracil . These compounds are now known collectively as nucleobases , and they provide the molecular structure necessary in the formation of stable DNA
and RNA


In 1895, Kossel was professor of physiology as well as director of the Physiological Institute at the University of Marburg
University of Marburg
. Around this time, he began investigations into the chemical composition of proteins , the alterations in proteins during transformation into peptone , the peptide components of cells, and other investigations.

In 1896, Kossel discovered histidine , then worked out the classical method for the quantitative separation of the "hexone bases" (the alpha-amino acids arginine , histidine , and lysine ). He was also the first to isolate Theophylline
, a therapeutic drug found naturally in tea and cocoa beans.

In 1901, Kossel was named to a similar post at Heidelberg
University , and became director of the Heidelberg
Institute for Protein Investigation. His research predicted the discovery of the polypeptide nature of the protein molecule.


The processes of life are like a drama, and I am studying the actors, not the plot. There are many actors, and it is their characters which make this drama. I seek to understand their habits, their peculiarities. — Albrecht Kossel, New York Times
New York Times

Kossel was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1910 for his research in cell biology , the chemical composition of the cell nucleus , and for his work in isolating and describing nucleic acids . The award was presented on 10 December 1910.

In the autumn of 1911, Kossel was invited to the United States to deliver the Herter Lecture at Johns Hopkins . Traveling with his wife Luise and daughter Gertrude, he took the opportunity to travel and to visit acquaintances, one of which was Eugene W. Hilgard , professor emeritus of agricultural chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley , who was also his wife's cousin. He also visited and delivered lectures at several other universities, including the University of Chicago
University of Chicago

On the occasion of his visit to New York City, Kossel was interviewed by a reporter from the New York Times
New York Times
. Kossel's English was reportedly very good, and his self-effacing modesty is voluminously mentioned in the reporter's account.

His Herter lecture at Johns Hopkins was titled, "The Proteins". This was the only time Kossel ever visited the United States.


With his distinguished English pupil Henry Drysdale Dakin , Kossel investigated arginase , the ferment which hydrolyses arginine into urea and ornithine . Later, he discovered agmatine in herring roe and devised a method for preparing it.

Another of Kossel's students was American biochemist Edwin B. Hart , who would later return to the United States to participate in the " Single-grain experiment " (1907–1911) and be part of research teams that would determine the nutritive causes of anemia and goiter . Another was Otto Folin , an American chemist who discovered Phosphocreatine .

In 1923, Kossel was honored by being named Germany's representative to the Eleventh Physiological Congress in Edinburgh
, Scotland. When he appeared before the assembled scientists, they gave him an ovation that lasted several minutes. At the congress, he was conferred an honorary degree by the University of Edinburgh

In 1924, Kossel became professor emeritus , but continued to lecture at Heidelberg
University . In April, 1927, he attended the Lister Centenary Celebration held in England.

During the last years of Kossel's life, he conducted important research into the composition of the protein types protamines and histones , and discovered flavianic acid . A monograph describing this work was published shortly after his death.


Kossel contributed to early issues of the Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie (Journal of Physiological Chemistry). This publication was founded by his professor and mentor, Felix Hoppe-Seyler , in 1877, the same year that Kossel started work as his research assistant. After Hoppe-Seyler's death in 1895, Kossel took over editorship of the Zeitschrift and continued in that role until his own death in 1927.


Kossel's grave in Heidelberg

In 1886, Kossel married Luise Holtzman, daughter of Adolf Holtzmann . Holtzmann was Professor at the University of Heidelberg
, lecturing in German literature as well as Sanskrit
. He was also a noted philologist of his day. The couple had three children, two of whom survived to maturity: Walther, born in 1888, and daughter Gertrude, born in 1889.

Son Walther Kossel (1888–1956) became a prominent physicist and was professor of theoretical physics and director of the Physics Institute at the University of Tübingen . He is known for his theory of the chemical bond (ionic bond /octet rule ), the Sommerfeld–Kossel displacement law , and other achievements.

There is no record of any political activity by Kossel, and by all accounts he was apolitical.

Through his marriage to Luise, Kossel was related to several prominent Americans, including soil science pioneer Eugene W. Hilgard , journalist and financier Henry Villard , and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison .

Luise Kossel died in 1913 of acute pancreatitis . Kossel died quietly on 5 July 1927, after a recurring attack of angina pectoris . He is buried in Heidelberg
, Germany.


The study of the living organism has more and more led to the view that its smallest independent units morphologically speaking – the cells – also to a certain degree lead an independent life and are the real seats of the vital processes. The cells therefore attract special attention in biological research, and studies which widen our knowledge of the cells to any important extent deserve to be given prominence. Prof. Kossel has chosen to devote himself to this field of research, and it is for his work in this respect that the Nobel Prize has been awarded to him this year. — Nobel Prize Introduction Speech, December 10, 1910

Albrecht Kossel
Albrecht Kossel
is considered one of the great scientists of biochemistry and genetics. By isolating and defining nucleic acid and the nucleobases , he provided the necessary precursors that led to the double-helix model of DNA
, devised by James D. Watson
James D. Watson
and Francis Crick in 1953.

The Albrecht Kossel Institute for Neuroregeneration at the University of Rostock
is named in his honor.


* Untersuchungen über die Nukleine und ihre Spaltungsprodukte ("Investigations into the nucleins and their cleavage products", 1881) * Die Gewebe des menschlichen Körpers und ihre mikroskopische Untersuchung ("The tissues in the human body and their microscopic investigation", 1889–1891) * Leitfaden für medizinisch-chemische Kurse ("Textbook for medical-chemical courses", 1888) * Die Probleme der Biochemie ("The problems of biochemistry", 1908) * Die Beziehungen der Chemie zur Physiologie ("The relationships between chemistry and physiology", 1913)


* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q Jones, Mary Ellen (September 1953). "Albrecht Kossel, A Biographical Sketch" . Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. National Center for Biotechnology Information
National Center for Biotechnology Information
. 26 (1): 80–97. PMC 2599350  . PMID 13103145 . * ^ A B C D E "Albrecht Kossel". Encyclopædia Britannica . Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011. * ^ A B "SEEKS LIFE\'S SECRET IN STUDY OF CELLS; Prof. Albrecht Kossel of Heidelberg
Comes to Lecture at Johns Hopkins University". New York Times
New York Times
. 27 August 1911. Retrieved 9 August 2011. * ^ "Albrecht Kossel". Nobelprize.org . 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2011.

* v * t * e

Laureates of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine


* 1901 Emil Behring * 1902 Ronald Ross
Ronald Ross
* 1903 Niels Finsen * 1904 Ivan Pavlov
Ivan Pavlov
* 1905 Robert Koch
Robert Koch
* 1906 Camillo Golgi
Camillo Golgi
/ Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Santiago Ramón y Cajal
* 1907 Alphonse Laveran * 1908 Élie Metchnikoff / Paul Ehrlich
Paul Ehrlich
* 1909 Emil Kocher * 1910 Albrecht Kossel * 1911 Allvar Gullstrand * 1912 Alexis Carrel * 1913 Charles Richet * 1914 Róbert Bárány * 1915 * 1916 * 1917 * 1918 * 1919 Jules Bordet * 1920 August Krogh * 1921 * 1922 Archibald Hill / Otto Meyerhof * 1923 Frederick Banting
Frederick Banting
/ John Macleod * 1924 Willem Einthoven
Willem Einthoven
* 1925


* 1926 Johannes Fibiger * 1927 Julius Wagner-Jauregg * 1928 Charles Nicolle * 1929 Christiaan Eijkman / Frederick Gowland Hopkins * 1930 Karl Landsteiner * 1931 Otto Warburg * 1932 Charles Scott Sherrington / Edgar Adrian * 1933 Thomas Morgan * 1934 George Whipple
George Whipple
/ George Minot / William Murphy * 1935 Hans Spemann * 1936 Henry Dale / Otto Loewi * 1937 Albert Szent-Györgyi * 1938 Corneille Heymans * 1939 Gerhard Domagk * 1940 * 1941 * 1942 * 1943 Henrik Dam
Henrik Dam
/ Edward Doisy * 1944 Joseph Erlanger / Herbert Gasser * 1945 Alexander Fleming
Alexander Fleming
/ Ernst Chain / Howard Florey
Howard Florey
* 1946 Hermann Muller * 1947 Carl Cori / Gerty Cori / Bernardo Houssay * 1948 Paul Müller * 1949 Walter Hess / António Egas Moniz * 1950 Edward Kendall / Tadeusz Reichstein / Philip Hench


* 1951 Max Theiler * 1952 Selman Waksman
Selman Waksman
* 1953 Hans Krebs / Fritz Lipmann * 1954 John Enders / Thomas Weller / Frederick Robbins * 1955 Hugo Theorell
Hugo Theorell
* 1956 André Cournand / Werner Forssmann
Werner Forssmann
/ Dickinson W. Richards * 1957 Daniel Bovet
Daniel Bovet
* 1958 George Beadle / Edward Tatum / Joshua Lederberg * 1959 Severo Ochoa
Severo Ochoa
/ Arthur Kornberg
Arthur Kornberg
* 1960 Frank Burnet / Peter Medawar
Peter Medawar
* 1961 Georg von Békésy * 1962 Francis Crick
Francis Crick
/ James Watson
James Watson
/ Maurice Wilkins * 1963 John Eccles / Alan Hodgkin / Andrew Huxley
Andrew Huxley
* 1964 Konrad Bloch / Feodor Lynen * 1965 François Jacob / André Lwoff / Jacques Monod * 1966 Francis Rous / Charles B. Huggins * 1967 Ragnar Granit
Ragnar Granit
/ Haldan Hartline / George Wald
George Wald
* 1968 Robert W. Holley / Har Khorana / Marshall Nirenberg * 1969 Max Delbrück / Alfred Hershey / Salvador Luria * 1970 Bernard Katz / Ulf von Euler / Julius Axelrod * 1971 Earl Sutherland Jr. * 1972 Gerald Edelman / Rodney Porter * 1973 Karl von Frisch / Konrad Lorenz
Konrad Lorenz
/ Nikolaas Tinbergen
Nikolaas Tinbergen
* 1974 Albert Claude / Christian de Duve / George Palade * 1975 David Baltimore
David Baltimore
/ Renato Dulbecco
Renato Dulbecco
/ Howard Temin


* 1976 Baruch Blumberg / Daniel Gajdusek * 1977 Roger Guillemin / Andrew Schally / Rosalyn Yalow * 1978 Werner Arber / Daniel Nathans / Hamilton O. Smith * 1979 Allan Cormack / Godfrey Hounsfield * 1980 Baruj Benacerraf / Jean Dausset / George Snell * 1981 Roger Sperry / David H. Hubel / Torsten Wiesel * 1982 Sune Bergström / Bengt I. Samuelsson / John Vane * 1983 Barbara McClintock * 1984 Niels Jerne / Georges Köhler / César Milstein * 1985 Michael Brown / Joseph L. Goldstein * 1986 Stanley Cohen / Rita Levi-Montalcini * 1987 Susumu Tonegawa * 1988 James W. Black / Gertrude B. Elion / George H. Hitchings * 1989 J. Michael Bishop / Harold E. Varmus * 1990 Joseph Murray / E. Donnall Thomas * 1991 Erwin Neher / Bert Sakmann * 1992 Edmond Fischer / Edwin G. Krebs
Edwin G. Krebs
* 1993 Richard J. Roberts / Phillip Sharp * 1994 Alfred G. Gilman / Martin Rodbell * 1995 Edward B. Lewis / Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard / Eric F. Wieschaus * 1996 Peter C. Doherty / Rolf M. Zinkernagel * 1997 Stanley B. Prusiner * 1998 Robert F. Furchgott / Louis Ignarro / Ferid Murad
Ferid Murad
* 1999 Günter Blobel * 2000 Arvid Carlsson / Paul Greengard / Eric Kandel
Eric Kandel


* 2001 Leland H. Hartwell / Tim Hunt / Paul Nurse * 2002 Sydney Brenner
Sydney Brenner
/ H. Robert Horvitz / John E. Sulston * 2003 Paul Lauterbur / Peter Mansfield * 2004 Richard Axel / Linda B. Buck * 2005 Barry Marshall / Robin Warren
Robin Warren
* 2006 Andrew Fire / Craig Mello * 2007 Mario Capecchi / Martin Evans / Oliver Smithies * 2008 Harald zur Hausen
Harald zur Hausen
/ Luc Montagnier
Luc Montagnier
/ Françoise Barré-Sinoussi * 2009 Elizabeth Blackburn / Carol W. Greider / Jack W. Szostak * 2010 Robert G. Edwards * 2011 Bruce Beutler / Jules A. Hoffmann / Ralph M. Steinman (posthumously) * 2012 John B. Gurdon / Shinya Yamanaka
Shinya Yamanaka
* 2013 James Rothman / Randy Schekman
Randy Schekman
/ Thomas C. Südhof * 2014 John O\'Keefe / May-Britt Moser / Edvard Moser * 2015 William C. Campbell / Satoshi Ōmura / Tu Youyou * 2016 Yoshinori Ohsumi
Yoshinori Ohsumi


* WorldCat Identities * VIAF : 19776709 * LCCN : no91011831 * ISNI : 0000 0000 8098 8135 * GND : 116343338 * SUDOC : 067043038 * BNF : cb12465135h (data) * NKC : nlk20000079365 * IATH