John E. Walker

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Professor Sir John Walker
Born John Ernest Walker
(1941-01-07) 7 January 1941 (age 74)[1]
Halifax, West Yorkshire, England
Institutions University of Oxford
Laboratory of Molecular Biology
University of Cambridge
Alma mater St Catherine's College, Oxford
Thesis Studies on naturally occurring peptides (1970)
Doctoral advisor Edward Abraham[citation needed]
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1997)
Knight Bachelor (1999)[2]

Professor Sir John Ernest Walker (born 7 January 1941) is an English chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1997.[3] He is currently a group leader at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge, and a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College.

Early life[edit]

Walker was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, the son of Thomas Ernest Walker, a stonemason, and Elsie Lawton, an amateur musician. He was brought up with his two younger sisters in a rural environment and went to Rastrick Grammar School. At school, he was a keen sportsman and specialized in physical sciences and mathematics the last three years. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St Catherine's College, Oxford.[4]


He began study of peptide antibiotics with Edward Abraham at Oxford in 1965 and received his DPhil in 1969.[4] During this period, he became interested in the spectacular developments in molecular biology. From 1969 to 1971, he worked at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and from 1971–1974 in France. He met Fred Sanger[5] in 1974 at a workshop at the University of Cambridge. This resulted in an invitation to work at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of the Medical Research Council, which became a long-term appointment. Among the other staff was Francis Crick, who was well known for his discovery of the molecular structure of DNA. At first, he analyzed the sequences of proteins and then uncovered details of the modified genetic code in mitochondria. In 1978, he decided to apply protein chemical methods to membrane proteins.


He shared his Nobel Prize with the American chemist Paul D. Boyer for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate. They also shared the prize with Danish chemist Jens C. Skou for research unrelated to theirs (Discovery of the Na+/K+-ATPase). Sir John was knighted in 1999 for services to molecular biology. He is a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering,[6] a fellow of the Royal Society London. a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford.[7]

Personal life[edit]

He married Christina Westcott in 1963, and they have two daughters.


  1. ^ "John E. Walker - Facts". 
  2. ^ "WALKER, Prof. John Ernest". Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
  3. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1997". 
  4. ^ a b "John Walker - Curriculum vitae - Mitochondrial Biology Unit". 
  5. ^ Walker, John (2014). "Frederick Sanger (1918–2013) Double Nobel-prizewinning genomics pioneer". Nature 505 (7481): 27. doi:10.1038/505027a. PMID 24380948.  edit
  6. ^ "Advisory Council of the Campaign for Science and Engineering". Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  7. ^ "John Walker - Honours and Awards - Mitochondrial Biology Unit". 

External links[edit]