Did you know that...today marks 107 years of the birth of Nobel Prize Severo Ochoa?

Sep 24, 2012

The Príncipe Felipe Science Museum is the custodian of his scientific legacy
Did you know that...today marks 107 years of the birth of Nobel Prize Severo Ochoa? On September 24, 1905 was born in the town of Luarca (Asturias) Spanish biochemist Severo Ochoa de Albornoz, Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. This award was won in 1959 together with his disciple Arthur Kornberg for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the basis for modern research in molecular biology and cancer studies.

Ochoa studied medicine in Madrid and he completed his PhD in 1929. Two years later he married Carmen García Cobián. In 1933 he traveled abroad for the first time, particularly to universities of Heidelberg (Germany), and Glasgow (Britain), in order to further his studies. Later, return to Madrid, but not for long time, since the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, in 1936, he left Spain again to continue his research in Germany, Britain and the United States, where he acquired with his wife U.S. citizenship 1956. During those years, he carried out research on pharmacology and biochemistry which earned him the prestigious medal Bewberg in 1951.

In 1955 he published, together with French-Russian biochemistry Marianne Grunberg-Manago, isolating of collibacilluses enzyme that catalyzes the RNA synthesis, the intermediary between DNA and protein, known as the enzyme RNA polymerase. In 1956, the American Arthur Kornberg showed that DNA synthesized also by the polymerase. Both findings represented a huge progress because now we could be done the decoding of the genetic code through statistical analysis of frequencies as other codes and unfamiliar languages are decoded. Severo Ochoa died in Madrid in November 1993.

'The Legacy of Science'

The second floor of the Museum houses a permanent exhibition, 'The Legacy of Science', which pays tribute to Professor Severo Ochoa, together with two Nobel Prizes, the Spanish Santiago Ramon y Cajal, and Frenchman Jean Dausset.

Of these, it takes a chronological journey, showing his life and the evolution of their research.

The Asturian scientific legacy consists of diplomas, appointments, plaques, medals, representative objects and awarded honors, including the Nobel Prize medal, besides private letters, scientific reports, lab notebooks and working notes, books, photographs, audiovisual documents, numerous autographs papers on various scientific topics and even the clothing used in their endowments as Doctor Honoris Causa in over 40 Spanish and foreign universities as Salamanca, Granada, Oviedo, Oxford, Brazil or Michigan.