Photo of Viktor Hamburger

Viktor Hamburger

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For his steadfast work that led to the discovery and understanding of normally occurring neuronal death, nerve growth factor, and competitive relationships in the vertebrate nervous system.

Throughout his storied career, which spanned nearly 70 years, Viktor Hamburger made great strides in the fields of biology, embryology and zoology.

In the 1950s, Hamburger collaborated with fellow embryologist Howard Hamilton to develop the Hamburger-Hamilton stages — a series of chronological stages that occur in the development of chicks.

Hamburger first journeyed to the United States in 1932, when he was offered a Rockefeller Fellowship at the University of Chicago. He hoped to return to his home country of Germany once the fellowship was over, but things didn’t go as planned.

During his time at the University of Chicago in the 1930s, Hamburger also held a teaching position at the University of Freiburg in Germany.

Hamburger’s time in Chicago coincided with the beginning of the Nazi regime in Germany. Because of his Jewish heritage, Hamburger was removed from his job at the University of Freiburg and he stayed in Chicago as a Rockefeller Fellow for two years longer than he’d planned.

From there, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri and remained there until he died 2001 at age 100.

By Rachel Warren