Frederick Gowland Hopkins

Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins OM, PRS[1] (20 June 1861 – 16 May 1947) was an English biochemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1929, with Christiaan Eijkman, for the discovery of vitamins, even though Casimir Funk, a Polish biochemist, is widely credited with discovering vitamins. He also discovered the amino acid tryptophan, in 1901. He was President of the Royal Society from 1930 to 1935.

Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins

Frederick Gowland Hopkins nobel
Born20 June 1861
Eastbourne, Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Died16 May 1947 (aged 85)
Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
Alma materKing's College London
Guy's Hospital
Known forVitamins, tryptophan, glutathione
AwardsNobel Prize (1929)
Royal Medal (1918)
Copley Medal (1926)
Albert Medal (1934)
Order of Merit (1935)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge
Academic advisorsThomas Stevenson
Doctoral studentsJudah Hirsch Quastel
Malcolm Dixon
Other notable studentsJ.B.S. Haldane


Hopkins was born in Eastbourne, Sussex, and educated at the City of London School completing his further study with the University of London External Programme and the medical school at Guy's Hospital which is now part of King's College London School of Medicine.[2] He then taught physiology and toxicology at Guy's Hospital from 1894 to 1898.

In 1898 he married Jessie Anne Stephens (1861–1937); they had one son and two daughters, one of whom, Jacquetta Hawkes, became a prominent archeologist.[3]

Also in 1898, while attending a meeting of the Physiological Society, he was invited by Sir Michael Foster to join the Physiological Laboratory in Cambridge to investigate the chemical aspects of physiology. Biochemistry was not, at that time, recognised as a separate branch of science. He was a lecturer in chemical physiology at Emmanuel College in March 1900, when he received the academic rank Master of Arts (MA) honoris causa.[4] He earned a doctorate in physiology (D.Sc) from the University of London in July 1902,[5] and at the same time was given a readership in biochemistry at Trinity College.[6]. While at Cambridge he was initiated into Freemasonry[7]. In 1910 he became a Fellow of Trinity College, and an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College. In 1914 he was elected to the Chair of Biochemistry at Cambridge University, thus becoming the first Professor in that discipline at Cambridge.[8] His Cambridge students included neurochemistry pioneer Judah Hirsch Quastel and pioneer embryologist Joseph Needham.

Hopkins had for a long time studied how cells obtain energy via a complex metabolic process of oxidation and reduction reactions. His study in 1907 with Sir Walter Morley Fletcher of the connection between lactic acid and muscle contraction was one of the central achievements of his work on the biochemistry of the cell. He and Fletcher showed that oxygen depletion causes an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscle. Their work paved the way for the later discovery by Archibald Hill and Otto Fritz Meyerhof that a carbohydrate metabolic cycle supplies the energy used for muscle contraction.

In 1912 Hopkins published the work for which he is best known, demonstrating in a series of animal feeding experiments that diets consisting of pure proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and water fail to support animal growth. This led him to suggest the existence in normal diets of tiny quantities of as yet unidentified substances that are essential for animal growth and survival. These hypothetical substances he called "accessory food factors", later renamed vitamins.[9] It was this work that led his being awarded (together with Christiaan Eijkman) the 1929 Nobel Prize in Physiology for Medicine.

During World War I, Hopkins continued his work on the nutritional value of vitamins. His efforts were especially valuable in a time of food shortages and rationing. He agreed to study the nutritional value of margarine and found that it was, as suspected, inferior to butter because it lacked the vitamins A and D. As a result of his work, vitamin-enriched margarine was introduced in 1926.

Hopkins is credited with the discovery and characterisation in 1921 of glutathione extracted from various animal tissues.[10] At the time he proposed that the compound was a dipeptide of glutamic acid and cysteine. The structure was controversial for many years but in 1929 he concluded that it was a tripeptide of glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine.[11] This conclusion agreed with that from the independent work of Edward Calvin Kendall.[12]

During his life, in addition to the Nobel Prize, Hopkins was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1918 and the Copley Medal of the Royal Society in 1926. Other significant honours were his election in 1905 to fellowship in the Royal Society, Great Britain's most prestigious scientific organisation; his knighthood by King George V in 1925; and the award in 1935 of the Order of Merit, Great Britain's most exclusive civilian honour. From 1930 -1935 he served as president of the Royal Society and in 1933 served as President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

He died on 16 May 1947 in Cambridge and is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge, with wife Lady Jessie Ann Hopkins.[13][14]


  1. ^ Dale, H. H. (1948). "Frederick Gowland Hopkins. 1861–1947". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 6 (17): 115–126. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1948.0022.
  2. ^ Needham, J. (1962). "Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, O.M., F.R.S. (1861–1947)". Notes and Records of the Royal Society. 17 (2): 117–126. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1962.0014.
  3. ^ Cooke, Rachel (2013). Her Brilliant Career - Ten Extraordinary Women of the 1950's. Great Britain: Virago. pp. 219–257. ISBN 9781844087419.
  4. ^ "University intelligence". The Times (36081). London. 5 March 1900. p. 11.
  5. ^ "University intelligence". The Times (36829). London. 25 July 1902. p. 5.
  6. ^ "University intelligence". The Times (36783). London. 2 June 1902. p. 9.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Hopkins, Frederick Gowland (HPKS900FG)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  9. ^ Hopkins, F. G. (1912). "Feeding experiments illustrating the importance of accessory factors in normal dietaries". The Journal of Physiology. 44 (5–6): 425–460. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.1912.sp001524. PMC 1512834. PMID 16993143.
  10. ^ Simoni, R. D.; Hill, R. L.; Vaughan, M. (2002). "On glutathione. II. A thermostable oxidation-reduction system (Hopkins, F. G., and Dixon, M. (1922) J. Biol. Chem. 54, 527–563)". The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 277 (24): e13. PMID 12055201.
  11. ^ Hopkins, Frederick Gowland (1929). "On Glutathione: A Reinvestigation" (PDF). J. Biol. Chem. 84: 269–320.
  12. ^ Kendall, Edward C.; McKenzie, Bernard F.; Mason, Harold L. (1929). "A Study of Glutathione. I. Its Preparation in Crystalline Form and its Identification". J. Biol. Chem. 84: 657–674.
  13. ^ A Guide to Churchill College, Cambridge: text by Dr. Mark Goldie, pages 62 and 63 (2009)
  14. ^ Trinity College Chapel

External links

1929 in science

The year 1929 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.

Antoinette Pirie

Antoinette (Tony) Pirie (4 October 1905 – 11 October 1991) was a British biochemist, ophthalmologist, and educator.

Ascension Parish Burial Ground

The Ascension Parish Burial Ground, formerly the burial ground for the parish of St Giles and St Peter's, is a cemetery in Cambridge, England. It includes the graves and memorials of many University of Cambridge academics and non-conformists of the 19th and early 20th century. The cemetery encapsulates a century-and-a-half of the university's modern history, with 83 people with Oxford Dictionary of National Biography biographies. Among those buried here John Couch Adams, the astronomer, is unique in also having a memorial in Westminster Abbey.

City of London School

The City of London School, also known as CLS and City, is an independent day school for boys in the City of London, England, on the banks of the River Thames next to the Millennium Bridge, opposite Tate Modern. It is a partner school of the City of London School for Girls and the City of London Freemen's School. All three schools receive funding from the City's Cash. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC).

The school was founded by a private Act of Parliament in 1834, following a bequest of land in 1442 for poor children in the City of London. The original school was established at Milk Street, moving to the Victoria Embankment in 1879 and its present site on Queen Victoria Street in 1986.

The school provides day education to about 900 boys aged 10 to 18 and employs approximately 100 teaching staff and around another 100 non-teaching staff. The majority of pupils enter at 11, some at 13 and some at 16 into the Sixth form. There is a small intake at 10 into Old Grammar, a year group consisting of two classes equivalent to primary school Year 6. Admissions are based on an entrance examination and an interview.

Former pupils, known as Old Citizens, who have attained eminence in various fields are prime minister H. H. Asquith, First World War hero Theodore Bayley Hardy, Nobel Prize–winning scientists Frederick Gowland Hopkins and Peter Higgs, Justice of the Supreme Court Lawrence Collins, England cricket captain Mike Brearley and Booker Prize-winning authors Kingsley Amis and Julian Barnes, Hollywood film director Michael Apted, and actor Daniel Radcliffe.

David Landsborough Thomson

David Landsborough Thomson F.R.S.C., (1901 - 1964) was a Canadian biochemist, best known for the co-discovery of Adrenocorticotropic hormone (adreno-cortical thyroid hormone or ACTH) and as the vice-principal of McGill University. ACTH was co-discovered by Evelyn M. Anderson, James Bertram Collip and Thomson. In a paper published in 1933, they explained its function in the body.Born in Scotland, Thomson earned BSc and MA degrees from the University of Aberdeen, then a PhD in biochemistry from Cambridge University under the eye of Nobel laureate Frederick Gowland Hopkins. After further studies in Europe, he moved to Montreal, joining the McGill faculty in 1928.

At McGill, he was Gilman Cheney Professor of Biochemistry from 1937 to 1960, dean of the faculty of graduate studies and research from 1942 to 1963, and the vice-principal from 1955 to 1963. He served on the National Research Council of Canada, the Defence Research Board and the Scientific Research Bureau of Quebec. He received an honorary LL.D. in 1961 from the University of Saskatchewan.Like all British subjects then living in Canada, he became a Canadian with the passage of the Canadian Citizenship Act 1946.

DeLuca Biochemistry Building

The Hector F. DeLuca Biochemistry Building, originally known as the Agricultural Chemistry Building, is a historic structure on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. It was the site of the discovery of vitamins A and B, as well as the development of vitamin D processing.

Ernest Baldwin

Ernest Hubert Francis Baldwin (March 29, 1909 – December 7, 1969) was an English biochemist, textbook author and pioneer in the field of comparative biochemistry.

Born in Gloucester, Baldwin attended the Crypt Grammar School followed by St. John's College, Cambridge. He completed the natural sciences tripos, specialising in biochemistry for Part II. He won a Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 scholarship for 1933–1935, remaining at Cambridge to study biochemistry. His main influence there was the eminent biochemist Frederick Gowland Hopkins; he also worked with Joseph Needham and Dorothy Needham.In 1937, inspired by the broad biochemical interests of Hopkins and the Needhams, Baldwin published An Introduction to Comparative Biochemistry, an influential introductory textbook that went through four editions, the last in 1964. By 1946 Baldwin had advanced to the position of lecturer in biochemistry at Cambridge. In 1947, he published the first edition (of five) of Dynamic Aspects of Biochemistry, a widely used (and translated) textbook that won the 1952 European Cortina-Ulisse Prize. Baldwin's research at St. John's from 1940 to 1949 focused on the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides. He also spent the summer of 1948 at the Marine Biological Laboratory, studying phosphagen in invertebrates.In 1950, Baldwin moved to University College, London, as chair of biochemistry. In addition to developing a biochemistry curriculum and managing new laboratory facilities, Baldwin's main areas of research at University College were comparative biochemistry, particularly in relation to nitrogen metabolism and ureotelic metabolism. His work was well regarded, especially abroad, and he held visiting professorships at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of Kansas.Ernest Baldwin married Pauline Mary Edwards in 1933. They had two children: Nicola and Nigel St. John. Baldwin died of congestive heart failure in 1969, after a prolonged struggle with myotonic muscular dystrophy.


Gowland may refer to:

Gibson Gowland (1877–1951), English film actor

Peter Gowland (born 1916), famous glamour photographer

Tony Gowland (born 1945), English competitive track cyclist, and a former six-day rider

William Gowland (1842–1922), English mining engineer most famous for his archaeological work at Stonehenge and in Japan

Frederick Gowland Hopkins OM FRS (1861–1947), English biochemist awarded a Nobel Prize in 1929 for the discovery of vitamins

Hopkins–Cole reaction

The Hopkins-Cole reaction, also known as the glyoxylic acid reaction, is a chemical test used for detecting the presence of tryptophan in proteins. A protein solution is mixed with Hopkins Cole reagent, which consists of glyoxylic acid. Concentrated sulfuric acid is slowly added to form two layers. A purple ring appears between the two layers if the test is positive for tryptophan. Nitrites, chlorates, nitrates and excess chlorides prevent the reaction from occurring.The reaction was first reported by Frederick Gowland Hopkins and Sydney W. Cole in 1901, as part of their work on the first isolation of typtophan itself.

Joshua Harold Burn

Joshua Harold Burn FRS (6 March 1892 – 13 July 1981) was an English pharmacologist and Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology at Oxford University.Burn worked on the internal control of the body by the auto(matic)nomic nervous system, carrying out seminal work on the release of noradrenaline from these nerves and introducing the controversial Burn-Rand hypothesis.The Nobel Laureate John Vane claimed "If anyone can be said to have moulded the subject of pharmacology around the world, it is he".

Juda Hirsch Quastel

Juda Hirsch Quastel, (October 2, 1899 – October 15, 1987) was a British-Canadian biochemist who pioneered diverse research in neurochemistry, soil metabolism, cellular metabolism, and cancer.

List of Fellows of the Royal Society elected in 1905

This is a list of Fellows of the Royal Society elected in 1905.

List of Nobel laureates affiliated with Imperial College London

The Nobel Prizes are awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Karolinska Institute, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee to individuals who make outstanding contributions in the fields of chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine. They were established by the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel, which dictates that the awards should be administered by the Nobel Foundation. Another prize, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, was established in 1968 by the Sveriges Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, for contributors to the field of economics. Each prize is awarded by a separate committee: the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, and Economics, the Karolinska Institute awards the Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the Prize in Peace. Each recipient receives a medal, a diploma and a cash prize that has varied throughout the years. In 1901, the winners of the first Nobel Prizes were given 150,782 SEK, which is equal to 7,731,004 SEK in December 2007. In 2008, the winners were awarded a prize amount of 10,000,000 SEK. The awards are presented in Stockholm in an annual ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.As of 2009, there have been 15 Nobel laureates affiliated with Imperial College London. Imperial College considers laureates who attended the university as undergraduate students, graduate students or were members of the faculty as affiliated laureates. Frederick Gowland Hopkins, who attended the Royal School of Mines from 1881 to 1883, was the first Imperial College-affiliated laureate, winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1929. One Nobel Prize was shared by two Imperial College laureates; Ernst Boris Chain and Alexander Fleming won the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Thirteen of the fifteen Imperial College laureates were members of the faculty. Nine laureates were fellows of the college. No Imperial College laureate has won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Nobel Peace Prize, or the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

List of Nobel laureates affiliated with University College London

University College London (UCL) is one of the two founding colleges of the University of London. There have been 33 Nobel Prize laureates amongst UCL’s alumni and current and former staff. UCL has the most Nobel affiliations among colleges and schools of the University of London, which has produced as many as 72 Nobelists till 2010.

Malcolm Dixon

Malcolm Dixon (18 April 1899 – 7 December 1985) was a British biochemist.

Norman Pirie

Norman Wingate (Bill) Pirie FRS (1 July 1907 – 29 March 1997), was a British biochemist and virologist who, along with Frederick Bawden, discovered that a virus can be crystallized by isolating tomato bushy stunt virus in 1936. This was an important milestone in understanding DNA and RNA.

Sir William Dunn Institute of Biochemistry

The Sir William Dunn Institute of Biochemistry at Cambridge University is a research institute endowed from the estate of Sir William Dunn, which was the origin of the Cambridge Department of Biochemistry. Created for Frederick Gowland Hopkins on the recommendation of Walter Morley Fletcher, it opened in 1924 and spurred the growth of Hopkins's school of biochemistry. Hopkins's school dominated the discipline of biochemistry from the 1920s through the interwar years and was the source of many leaders of the next generation of biochemists, and the Dunn bequest inaugurated a period of rapid expansion for biochemistry.

Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry

The Sir William Dunn Professorship of Biochemistry is the senior professorship in biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. The position was established in 1914 by the trustees of the will of Sir William Dunn, banker, merchant and philanthropist.The first holder of the chair was Frederick Gowland Hopkins, winner of the 1929 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on the discovery of vitamins.

William Bate Hardy

Sir William Bate Hardy, FRS (6 April 1864 – 23 January 1934) was a British biologist and food scientist. The William Bate Hardy Prize is named in his honour.

Recipients of the Copley Medal (1901–1950)
17th century
18th century
19th century
20th century
21st century

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