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Severo Ochoa

Severo Ochoa Monument outside the School of Medicine of the Complutense University of Madrid
Born September 24, 1905(1905-09-24)
Luarca, Asturias, Spain
Died November 1, 1993 (aged 88)
Madrid, Spain
Residence Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, United States
Citizenship Spanish (1905–93)
American (1956–93)
Fields Biochemistry, molecular biology
Institutions NYU's School of Medicine
Roche Institute of Molecular Biology (Nutley)
Known for Research on RNA's synthesis
Influenced Arthur Kornberg
Notable awards Nobel Prize (1959)
National Medal of Science (1979)

Severo Ochoa de Albornoz (September 24, 1905 – November 1, 1993) was a Spanish-American biochemist, and the recipient of the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.



Severo Ochoa was born in Luarca (Asturias), Spain. His father was Severo Manuel Ochoa, a lawyer and businessman, and his mother was Carmen de Albornoz. His father died when Ochoa was seven, and he and his mother moved to Málaga, where he attended school through high school. His interest in biology was stimulated by the publications of the Spanish neurologist and Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal. In 1923, he went to the University of Madrid Medical School, where he hoped to work with Cajal, but Cajal retired. He studied with father Pedro Arrupe, and Juan Negrín was his teacher. In 1929, he obtained his MD degree with honors. In 1931, Ochoa married Carmen García Cobián, but they had no children.


From then until 1938, he held many positions and worked with many people at many places. For example, Otto Meyerhof appointed him Guest Research Assistant at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg for one year. From 1938 until 1941 he was Demonstrator and Nuffield Research Assistant at the University of Oxford. He then went to America, where he again held many positions at several universities. In 1942 he was appointed Research Associate in Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and there subsequently became Assistant Professor of Biochemistry (1945), Professor of Pharmacology (1946), Professor of Biochemistry (1954), and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry.

In 1956, he became an American citizen. In 1959, Ochoa was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work on the synthesis of RNA.

Ochoa continued research on protein synthesis and replication of RNA viruses until 1985, when he returned to Spain and gave advice to Spanish science policy authorities and scientists. Ochoa was also a recipient of U.S. National Medal of Science in 1979. A new research center that was planned in the 1970s, was finally built and named after Ochoa. The asteroid 117435 Severochoa is also named in his honour.

Severo Ochoa died in Madrid, Spain on November 1, 1993.

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