Photo of Harland G. Wood

Harland G. Wood

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For his pioneering work on the biochemistry of CO2 fixation, for major contributions to medical education, and for leadership in biochemistry at the national and international levels.

Biochemist Harland Wood was known for many things over his 60-year career — but acting his age wasn’t one of them.

Wood’s passion for science persisted until his death in 1991. Even while undergoing several cycles of chemotherapy to treat lymphoma during the last years of his life, Wood spent most of his days in the lab.

In 1935, Wood discovered that carbon dioxide is used in heterotrophic organisms, as well as bacterial autotrophs. His work in the field continued for nearly six decades.

From age 70 to his death at 84, Wood published 96 papers. When he died in 1991, Wood held three grants from the National Institutes of Health, was leading a group of 15 associates in the lab and was writing nine manuscripts.

Wood didn’t let his age keep him from his hobbies either — he was an avid deer and duck hunter. At age 79, he was still climbing 35-foot trees to spot the deer below.

By Rachel Warren