Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt in 1921
24 March 1903|
Lehe/Bremerhaven, German Empire
|Died||18 January 1995
|Fields||Organic and biochemistry|
|Institutions||Kaiser Wilhelm Institute / Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry
Technical University of Danzig
|Doctoral advisor||Adolf Windaus|
|Notable awards||Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1939)
Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt (24 March 1903 – 18 January 1995) was a German biochemist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1939 for his "work on sex hormones." He initially rejected the award in accordance with government policy, but accepted it in 1949 after World War II. He was President of the Max Planck Society from 1960 to 1972.
Adolf Windaus and Walter Schöller of Schering gave him the advice to work on hormones extracted from ovaries. This research lead to the discovery of estrone and other primary female sex hormones, which were extracted from several thousand liters of urine. While working as professor in Gdańsk at the Chemisches Institut he was continuing his works over hormones extracting progesterone in 1934 and testosterone a year later, obtaining a substantial part of research results awarded later by Nobel Committee in 1939.
For this research he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1939 together with Leopold Ružička who was involved in the synthesis of several newly discovered steroids.
After his Habilitation he became lecturer in Göttingen 1931. He was professor at the Technical University of Danzig 1933-1936, and after a visit in the US, he became director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biochemistry (later the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry) in Berlin-Dahlem beginning in 1936.
In 1933 Butenandt had signed the Loyalty Oath of German Professors to Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist State.
Butenandt joined the NSDAP on 1 May 1936 (party member No. 3716562). As the head of a leading institute, he applied for government funding on concentrated research labeled kriegswichtig (important for the war), some of which focused on military projects like the improvement of oxygen uptake for high-altitude bomber pilots. His involvement with the Nazi regime and various themes of research led to criticism after the war, and even after his death the exact nature of his political orientation during the Nazi era has never been fully resolved. When the institute moved to Tübingen in 1945 he became a professor at the University of Tübingen. In 1956, when the institute relocated to Martinsried, a suburb of Munich, Butenandt became a professor at the University of Munich. He also served as president of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science following Otto Hahn from 1960 to 1972.
Butenandt died in Munich in 1995, at the age of 91. His wife Erika, born in 1906, died in 1995 at 88.
Honours and awards
- 1939: Nobel Prize in Chemistry (shared with Leopold Ruzicka) for the identification of the sex hormones, oestrogen, progesterone and androsterone
- 1942: War Merit Cross (Germany)
- 1953: Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize
- 1959: Grand Merit Cross with Star and Sash of the Federal Republic of Germany (1959 and 1964)
- 1960: Honorary Citizen of the City of Bremerhaven
- 1961: Wilhelm Normann Medal of the German Society for Fat Research
- 1962: Bavarian Order of Merit
- 1962: Pour le Mérite
- 1964: Austrian Decoration for Science and Art
- 1967: Cultural Award of the City of Munich
- 1969: Commander of the French Legion of Honour
- 1972: Ordre des Palmes Académiques
- 1981: Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art
- 1985: Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
- 1985: Honorary Citizen of the City of Munich
- 1994: Grand Gold Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria
- 1951 - 1992: 31 participations in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings (record)
- Honorary President of the Max Planck Society
- Honorary Doctor of Medicine (MD H.C.)
- Honorary Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (Dr. med.vet. H.C.)
- Honorary Doctor of Science (Dr. rer. Hc)
- Honorary Doctor of Philosophy (Dr. phil. H.C.)
- Honorary Doctor of Science (D.Sc.), University of Leeds, 1961
- Honorary Doctor of Engineering (Dr.-Ing. E.h.)
- Szöllösi-Janze, Margit (2001). Science in the Third Reich (German Historical Perspectives). Oxford, UK: Berg Publishers. ISBN 1-85973-421-9.
- Akhtar, M.; Akhtar, M. E. (1998). "Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt. 24 March 1903-18 January 1995". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 44: 79. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1998.0006.
- Karlson, P. (1995). "Adolf Butenandt (1903–1995)". Nature. 373 (6516): 660. doi:10.1038/373660b0. PMID 7854440.
- Jaenicke, L. (1995). "Adolf Butenandt: 24. 3. 1903 - 18. 1. 1995". Chemie in unserer Zeit. 29 (3): 163–165. doi:10.1002/ciuz.19950290313.
- Butenandt, A. (1929). "Über "Progynon" ein krystallisiertes weibliches Sexualhormon". Die Naturwissenschaften. 17 (45): 879–879. doi:10.1007/BF01506919.
- Butenandt, A. (1931). "Über die chemische Untersuchung der Sexualhormone". Zeitschrift für Angewandte Chemie. 44 (46): 905. doi:10.1002/ange.19310444602.
- Piosik, R. (2003). "Adolf Butenandt und sein Wirken an der Technischen Hochschule Danzig". Chemkon. 10 (3): 135. doi:10.1002/ckon.200390038.
- Mertens, L. (2003). "Nur"Zweite Wahl" oder Die Berufung Adolf Butenandts zum Direktor des KWI für Biochemie". Berichte zur Wissenschafts-Geschichte. 26 (3): 213. doi:10.1002/bewi.200390058.
- Trunk, A. (2006). "Biochemistry in Wartime: The Life and Lessons of Adolf Butenandt, 1936–1946". Minerva. 44 (3): 285–306. doi:10.1007/s11024-006-9002-2.
- "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 166. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
- "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 972. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
- Angelika Ebbinghaus, Karl-Heinz Roth (2002). "Von der Rockefeller Foundation zur Kaiser-Wilhelm/Max-Planck-Gesellschaft: Adolf Butenandt als Biochemiker und Wissenschaftspolitiker des 20. Jahrhunderts". Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft. 50 (5): 389–418.
- Schieder, Wolfgang (2004). Adolf Butenandt und die Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft - Wissenschaft, Industrie und Politik im "Dritten Reich". Göttingen: Wallstein-Verlag. p. 450. ISBN 3-89244-752-7.
- 1939 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
- MPG Biography
- Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings: Background information on and historical lectures by Adolf Butenandt (mediatheque)