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Kurt Wüthrich

Born October 4, 1938(1938-10-04)
Aarberg, Switzerland
Nationality Switzerland
Fields Chemistry, physics, mathematics
Institutions ETH Zürich
Scripps Institute
Alma mater Universität Bern
Universität Basel
Doctoral advisor Silvio Fallab
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2002)

Kurt Wüthrich (born October 4, 1938) is a Swiss chemist and Nobel Chemistry laureate.

Biography

Born in Aarberg, Switzerland, Wüthrich was educated in chemistry, physics, and mathematics at the University of Berne before pursuing his Ph.D. under the direction of Silvio Fallab at the University of Basel, awarded in 1964. He continued post-doctoral work with Fallab for a short time before leaving to work at the University of California, Berkeley for two years from 1965 with Robert E. Connick. That was followed by a stint working with Robert G. Shulman at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey from 1967 to 1969.

Wüthrich returned to Switzerland, to Zürich, in 1969, where he began his career there at the ETH Zürich, rising to Professor of Biophysics by 1980. He currently maintains a laboratory both at the ETH Zürich and at The Scripps Research Institute, in La Jolla, California.

Career

During his graduate studies Wüthrich started out working with electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy and the subject of his Ph. D thesis was "the catalytic activity of copper compounds in autoxidation reactions". During his time as a postdoc in Berkeley he began working with the newly developed and related technique of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study the hydration of metal complexes. When Wüthrich joined the Bell Labs, he was put in charge of one of the first superconducting NMR spectrometers, and started studying the structure and dynamics of proteins. He has pursued this line of research ever since.

After returning to Switzerland, Wüthrich collabrated with among others nobel laureate Richard R. Ernst on developing the first 2 dimensional NMR experiments, and established the nuclear Overhauser effect as a convenient way of measuring distances within proteins. This research later led to the complete assignment and of resonances for among others the bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor and glucagon.

He was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University in 1991 and half of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002 for "his development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for determining the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution". He taught at Duke University as Handler Memorial Lecturer in 2007.

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