Image of a cell

Fritz A. Lipmann

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For original discoveries of molecular mechanisms for the transfer and transformation of energy in living cells, and for fundamental contributions to the conceptual structure of modern biochemistry.

When you eat a meal, your body converts nutrients from food into the energy that powers your daily life.

This fuel is the result of a metabolic process led by coenzyme A – CoA for short.

In 1945, Fritz Lipmann became the first person to isolate this factor, which he detected through an experiment with pigeon livers. The discovery led to a greater understanding of how our bodies capture critical fuel from substances like fatty acids and carbohydrates. Lipmann’s accomplishment – which won him the Nobel Prize – stems from an early pursuit to study medicine following the premature death of his beloved uncle.

In a 1971 collection of autobiographical essays, the biochemist recalls his early years of questioning the world around him, wandering without knowing where his passion would lead.

“The drive and urge to explore nature in all its facets is one of the most important functions of humanity,” he said in his Nobel address.