Photo of Judith Klinman

Judith Klinman

  • National Medal of Science
  • Chemistry

For her discoveries of fundamental chemical and physical principles underlying enzyme catalysis and her leadership in the community of scientists.

Judith Klinman on decision to pursue a career in science

At an early age, Judith Klinman’s curiosity stood out. It was that inquisitive mind that pushed her into science.

At that time, when a woman chose a career in science it was typically as a lab tech, her parents told her. “But I had this underlying curiosity,’’ she said. “I was determined to go the whole route.’’

Klinman, who went on to earn a doctorate in physical-organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966 and later became the first female to join the chemistry faculty at the University of California at Berkeley, is well known for her pioneering research into enzyme catalysis, as well as her leadership in the science community. She later became chair of the university’s Chemistry Department.

Klinman’s research, the university said, probes “how proteins and enzymes do everything from letting our bodies use oxygen to regulating neurotransmitters.’’

Early in her career, Klinman was a researcher at the Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia.

Klinman was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1994. She also received the Mildred Cohn Award in Biological Chemistry, given by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

By Bob Warren