Detailed Pedia

Hans Kornberg

Sir Hans Kornberg
Sir Hans Kornberg.jpg
Hans Leo Kornberg

(1928-01-14)14 January 1928
Died16 December 2019(2019-12-16) (aged 91)
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Sheffield
Scientific career

Sir Hans Leo Kornberg, FRS (14 January 1928 – 16 December 2019)[2] was a British-American biochemist.[3][4] He was Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry in the University of Cambridge from 1975 to 1995, and Master of Christ's College, Cambridge from 1982 to 1995.

Early life and education

Kornberg was born in 1928 in Germany from Jewish parents, Max Kornberg (1889–1943) and Selma (née Nathan; 1886–1943) who was murdered. In 1939 he left Nazi Germany (although his parents could not), and moved to the care of an uncle in Yorkshire. Initially he went to a school for German refugees, but later to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield.[5][6]

On leaving school he became a junior laboratory technician for Hans Adolf Krebs at the University of Sheffield who encouraged him to study further and apply for a scholarship at the same university. He graduated with a BSc Honours in Chemistry in 1949. His interest moved to biochemistry and he studied in the Faculty of Medicine, receiving a PhD degree in1953 on the studies on urease in mammalian gastric mucosa.[3][6]


After receiving Commonwealth Fund Fellowship and working for two years in Yale University and Public Health Research Institute in USA, he then returned to the UK where his mentor Hans Krebs had moved to Oxford University and offered him a post there. This partnership produced a paper in Nature,[7] concerning their discovery of the glyoxylate cycle, and also a joint book entitled Energy Transformations in Living Matter on 1957.[8][9]

In 1960, he was appointed to the first Chair in Biochemistry at the University of Leicester, which he held until 1975.[10] Later, he was elected as Sir William Dunn Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. Hans became a lecturer at Worcester College between 1958 and 1961 and he was also the first person who received The Biochemical Society’s annual Colworth Medal on 1963.[11]

He received Christ’s Fellowship in 1975 and was elected as the 34th Master of the Christ's College, Cambridge from 1982 to 1995. In 1995, he retired to take up a position as a Professor of Biology at Boston University, USA, where he taught biochemistry.[12]

Honours and awards

He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1965 and the same year awarded the Colworth Medal of The Biochemical Society.[11] In 1973, he was awarded the Otto Warburg Medal of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In the 1978 Queen's Birthday Honours List he was knighted for "services to science". He has been awarded 11 honorary doctorates and has been elected into membership of:

and Honorary Fellowship of

  • The Biochemical Society (UK)
  • The Royal Society of Biology
  • Brasenose College (Oxford)
  • Worcester College (Oxford)
  • Wolfson College (Cambridge)
  • The Foulkes Foundation (London)[4]

Personal life

While at Oxford, he also met and married his first wife on 1956, Monica King and have four children from their marriage. She died in 1989. In 1991, he married Donna Haber.[9] Sir Hans Kornberg died on December 16, 2019.[9][2]


  1. ^ Kornberg, H. L. (1966). "The role and control of the glyoxylate cycle in Escherichia coli". The Biochemical Journal. 99 (1): 1–11. doi:10.1042/bj0990001. PMC 1264949. PMID 5337756.
  2. ^ a b Obituaries, Telegraph (18 December 2019). "Professor Sir Hans Kornberg, German-born biochemist and Master of Christ's College, Cambridge who did pioneering research into how bacteria work – obituary". The Telegraph.
  3. ^ a b Kornberg, H. L. (2003). "Memoirs of a biochemical hod carrier". Journal of Biological Chemistry. 278 (12): 9993–10001. doi:10.1074/jbc.X200008200. PMID 12556462.
  4. ^ a b "Curriculum Vitae: Sir Hans Kornberg" (PDF). The Academy of Europe. 2015.
  5. ^ Offord, Catherine (27 January 2020). "Biochemist Hans Kornberg Dies". The Scientist Magazine®. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  6. ^ a b Evan, Gerard (10 January 2020). "The passing of Professor Sir Hans Leo Kornberg". Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  7. ^ Kornberg, H. L.; Krebs, H. A. (1957). "Synthesis of cell constituents from C2-units by a modified tricarboxylic acid cycle". Nature. 179 (4568): 988–91. Bibcode:1957Natur.179..988K. doi:10.1038/179988a0. PMID 13430766. S2CID 40858130.
  8. ^ Krebs, H. A.; Kornberg, H. L. (1957). Energy Transformations in Living Matter. Berlin: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-86577-0. ISBN 978-3-540-02189-6.
  9. ^ a b c Ferry, Georgina (7 January 2020). "Sir Hans Kornberg obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Lectures by former students commemorate Department of Biochemistry's golden anniversary — University of Leicester". 20 June 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  11. ^ a b "The passing of Professor Sir Hans Kornberg | Worcester College". 20 December 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  12. ^ "Sad News - Professor Sir Hans Kornberg FRS | Christs College Cambridge". Retrieved 5 September 2020.

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
New position
Professor of Biochemistry, University of Leicester
Succeeded by
Bill Brammar
Preceded by
Frank George Young
Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry, Cambridge University
Succeeded by
Tom Blundell
Preceded by
Jack Plumb
Master of Christ's College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Alan Munro

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