MEDICINE - Severo Ochoa - Luarca, Asturias, España
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Ariberna
N 43° 32.615 W 006° 32.126
29T E 699106 N 4824132
Quick Description: Nobel in Medicine (1959)
Location: Principado de Asturias, Spain
Date Posted: 10/12/2021 8:50:58 AM
Waymark Code: WM1541A
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 1

Long Description:
The statue was commissioned by the City Council to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the doctor's death.
It is made in bronze in natural size by Sara Iglesias Poli in 2018

"Severo Ochoa
(Luarca, Asturias, 1905 - Madrid, 1993) Spanish biochemist who was the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. He shared the award with the biochemist Arthur Kornberg, for his discoveries about the mechanism of the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Severo Ochoa studied in Malaga, the city to which he moved with his family after the death of his father in 1912. His interest in biology was largely stimulated by the publications of the great Spanish neurologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal ; Ochoa moved to Madrid and studied medicine, which, at that time, were the best way out of his future prospects.


Severo Ochoa

He graduated in 1929 from the Complutense University of Madrid, obtaining a doctorate shortly after. However, he never practiced medicine; He himself declared on numerous occasions that he had not seen a sick person since he left the Faculty. During his stay in Madrid he lived in the Student Residence, which he entered in 1927, and there he was a companion of great intellectuals and artists of the time, such as Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí .

At the Madrid University he was assistant professor to Juan Negrín and several scholarships were awarded to him to further his studies at the Universities of Glasgow, Berlin and London, and mainly in Heidelberg, specifically at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research; During this period he worked on the biochemistry and physiology of muscle, under the direction of Professor Otto Meyerhof , whose influence was decisive in taking a perspective on his future scientific career.

In 1931, back in Madrid and in the same year as his wedding to Carmen García Cobián, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Physiology and Biochemistry at the Madrid Faculty of Medicine, a position he held until 1935. In 1932 he carried out the first important studies on enzymology at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, and in 1935 he was invited by Professor Carlos Jiménez Díaz to assume the Directorate of the Department of Physiology of the Institute of Medical Research of the University City of Madrid.

In 1936 the Spanish Civil War broke out and this favored the departure of Severo Ochoa towards environments more conducive to research. Thus, he returned to Germany and in the same year was appointed guest research assistant at the Meyerhof Laboratory in Heidelberg, where he studied the enzymes of certain steps of glycolysis and fermentations.

But he did not last long here either, as the Nazi invasion did not take long to arrive and he had to leave the country, since his boss was Jewish. In 1937 he moved to Plymouth and there he did research at the Marine Biology Laboratory, and from 1938 to 1941 he devoted himself to the study of the biological function of thiamine (vitamin B1) and other enzymatic aspects of oxidative metabolism, at Rudolph's Laboratory. Peters of the University of Oxford.

He emigrated to the United States in 1941, this time because of the outbreak of the Second World War . He began his American career with a position in the Department of Pharmacology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and there he conducted interesting enzymological studies with researchers Carl Cori and Gerty Cori . Later, in 1942, he went to work at the University of New York, where he remained for a large part of his life; There, and encouraged by his wife, he embarked on an independent research career that would later bear fruit, while working as an associate researcher at the Faculty of Medicine.

Although Severo was convinced of the benefits that American citizenship would bring them, he allowed his wife to make, later, the decision to request American citizenship, which was granted to them in 1956; but in his own words he always considered himself "a scientific exile, not a political one."

His experiments carried out at this time on pharmacology and biochemistry, especially in the field of enzymes, earned him the Bewberg Medal of 1951. He investigated the metabolism of carbohydrates and fatty acids, and discovered a new enzyme that clarified the mechanism pyruvic acid oxidation (Krebs cycle); he also studied the role of the vitamin B complex in these cycles and the process of CO2 fixation by green plants in photosynthesis . But his main research focused on high-energy phosphates that participated in biochemical reactions.

These were the years in which biochemistry underwent a revolution at the molecular level; thus in 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick had proposed a model in the form of a double helix that explained the molecular structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and in 1955 Severo Ochoa discovered and isolated an enzyme from an Escherichia coli bacterial cell, which he named polynucleotide-phosphorylase and later known as RNA-polymerase, whose catalytic function is the synthesis of RNA (ribonucleic acid), the molecule necessary for protein synthesis.

With this enzyme, Ochoa achieved for the first time the synthesis of RNA in the laboratory, starting from a suitable nucleotide substrate (its elemental components). A year later, the North American biochemist Arthur Kornberg , a disciple of Ochoa, showed that DNA synthesis also requires another polymerase enzyme, specific for this chain. The two shared the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their discoveries.

These extraordinary findings later allowed the decipherment of the genetic code (which was proven to be universal for all living beings) and the confirmed reproductive capacity of nucleic acids made them already considered as the molecules of biological inheritance. For this reason, the scientist Hermann Joseph Muller affirmed that life was artificially created in the laboratory in 1955, alluding to Ochoa's experiment.

Later, in view of the biological importance of the DNA double helix, Watson and Crick shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Severo Ochoa continued to investigate the molecular mechanism of the reading of the genetic message and its expression. In 1971 he was appointed Director of the Molecular Biology Laboratory of the Autonomous University of Madrid. He left New York University in 1975, returned to his home country and in the 1980s he led two research groups on protein biosynthesis simultaneously, one at the Institute of Molecular Biology in Madrid and the other at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology. from New Jersey, in the United States, until in 1985 he settled permanently in Spain. Although he officially retired in 1975, he never gave up research.

In May 1986 his wife died, and this was a very hard blow for Severo that plunged him into a kind of deep depression. From then on, Ochoa decided not to republish any more scientific work, thus completely ending his brilliant career. From then on he devoted himself mainly to giving lectures, attending the media and dealing with students at the Madrid Molecular Biology Center. In June 1993, Severo Ochoa presented in Madrid his biography entitled The emotion of discovering , written by the journalist Mariano Gómez-Santos, and in November of that same year he died in Madrid, at the age of 88, as a result of pneumonia."

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Field of Accomplishment: Physiology/Medicine

Year of Award: 1959

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