adolf f johann butenandt

Adolf Butenandt


Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt (March 24, 1903January 18, 1995) was a German biochemist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1939 for his "work on sex hormones." He was initially forced by the Nazi government to decline the award, but accepted it in 1949 after World War II. Organic

Born in Lehe, near Bremen, he started his studies at the University of Marburg.

For his Ph.D he joined the working group of the Nobel laureate Adolf Windaus at the University of Göttingen and he finished his studies with a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1927.

Adolf Windaus and Walter Schöller of Schering gave him the advice to work on hormones extraced from ovaries. This research lead to the discovery of estrone and other primary female sex hormones, which were extracted from several thousand liter of urine. For this research he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1939 together with Lavoslav Ružička who was involved in the synthesis of several newly discovered steroids.

After his Habilitation he became lecturer in Göttingen 1931. He was professor at the Technical University of Danzig 1933, and after a visit in the US, he became director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biochemistry (later the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry) in Berlin-Dahlem beginning in 1936. Butenandt joined the Nazi Party on May 1, 1936 (party member No. 3716562). As head of a leading institute he had to apply for money from the government, which was concentrated on the research which was labeled kriegswichtig (important for the war). So some of his research areas had a connection to military projects, like the improvement of oxygen uptake for high flying bomber pilots. This involvement with the Nazi regime and the research themes lead to criticism after the war and even after his death the discussion about his political orientation during the Nazi time is still not fully resolved. When the institute moved to Tübingen in 1945 he became a professor at the University of Tübingen. In 1956, when the institute relocated to Martinsried, a suburb of Munich, Butenandt became a professor at the University of Munich. He also served as president of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science following Otto Hahn from 1960 to 1972.

Butenandt is credited with the discovery and naming of the silkworm moth pheromone Bombykol in 1959.

Butenandt died in Munich in 1995. He was 91.

External links


  • Peter Karlson (1995). "Adolf Butenandt (1903–1995)". Nature 373 660.
  • Muhammad Akhtar; Monika E. Akhtar (1998). "Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt. 24 March 1903-18 January 1995". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 44 78–92.
  • Lothar Jaenicke (1995). "Adolf Butenandt: 24. 3. 1903 - 18. 1. 1995". Chemie in unserer Zeit 29 (3): 163–165.
  • Angelika Ebbinghaus, Karl-Heinz Roth (2002). "Von der Rockefeller Foundation zur Kaiser-Wilhelm/Max-Planck-Gesellschaft: Adolf Butenandt als Biochemiker und Wissenschaftspolitiker des 20. Jahrhunderts". Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 50 (5): 389–418.
  • Schieder, Wolfgang (2004). Adolf Butenandt und die Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft - Wissenschaft, Industrie und Politik im "Dritten Reich". Göttingen: Wallstein-Verlag. ISBN 3-89244-752-7.

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