Hans Kornberg

Professor Sir Hans Leo Kornberg, FRS (born 14 January 1928) is a British biochemist.

Early Life, Education and Career

Kornberg was born in 1928 in Germany of Jewish parents. 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 a private school and Wakefield Grammar School.

On leaving school he became a junior laboratory technician for Dr Hans 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 had now moved to biochemistry and he studied in the Faculty of Medicine, receiving a PhD degree in 1953 for a thesis entitled Studies on gastric urease.

A Commonwealth Fund Exchange Fellowship of the Harkness Foundation enabled him to travel to the USA and work in several biochemistry laboratories. 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 and a joint book which was the first major publication on biological thermodynamics. In 1960 he was appointed to the first Chair in Biochemistry at the University of Leicester, which he held until 1975 when he was elected to the Sir William Dunn Chair of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge.

From 1982 to 1995 he was Master of Christ's College, Cambridge.

In 1995 he left the Cambridge chair to take up a position as a Professor of Biology at Boston University, USA, where he teaches biochemistry. His major research area is the nature and regulation of carbohydrate transport in micro-organisms.

Honours and Awards

He was elected to the Royal Society in 1965 and the same year awarded the Colworth Medal of The Biochemical Society. In 1973 he was awarded the Warburg Medal of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In 1978 he was knighted for "services to science". He has been awarded 11 honorary doctorates and has been elected into membership of:

Other Information

While at Oxford, he also met and married his first wife, Monica, a radiographer; she died in 1989. In 1991 he married Donna Haber. They live in Brookline Massachusetts.

Professor Kornberg is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.

He was editor of the Sheffield University Rag Magazine Twikker in 1947.

He was President and a keen supporter of the Boat Club while he was Master of Christ's College, Cambridge: the Boat Club has one boat Sir Hans named after him, and another Lady K after his wife.



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