Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt (March 24, 1903 – January 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
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 died in Munich in 1995. He was 91.