Dean Burk

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M. Dean Burk, PhD
M. Dean Burk.jpg
Born (1904-03-21)March 21, 1904
Died October 6, 1988(1988-10-06) (aged 84)
Alma mater

University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Davis

Dean Burk (March 21, 1904 – October 6, 1988) was an American biochemist: a co-discoverer of biotin,[1] medical researcher, and a cancer researcher at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and the National Cancer Institute. In 1934, he developed the Lineweaver–Burk plot together with Hans Lineweaver.[2]

Dean was the second of four sons born to Frederic Burk, the founder of the San Francisco Normal School, a preparatory school for teachers which eventually became San Francisco State University. He entered the University of California at Davis at the age of 15. A year later, he transferred to the University of California at Berkeley, where he received his B.S. in Entomology in 1923. Four years later he earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry.

Professional career[edit]

Burk joined the Department of Agriculture in 1929 working in the Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory.[1] In 1939, he joined the Cancer Institute as a senior chemist. He was head of the cytochemistry laboratory when he retired in 1974. He also taught biochemistry at the Cornell University medical school from 1939 to 1941. He was a research master at George Washington University. Burk was a close friend and co-author with Otto Heinrich Warburg.[3] He was a co-developer of the prototype of the Magnetic Resonance Scanner and a co-discoverer of biotin.[1][4] Burk published more than 250 scientific articles in his lifetime.[5] He later became head of the National Cancer Institute's Cytochemistry Sector in 1938, although he is often mistaken as leading the entire facility.


After retiring from the NCI in 1974, Dean Burk remained active. He devoted himself to his opposition to water fluoridation.[6][7] According to Burk "fluoridation is a form of public mass murder."[8] Dean Burk argued on Dutch television against a water fluoridation proposal which was before the Dutch Parliament in the Netherlands.[8] He also was an avid supporter of laetrile; a cancer treatment now regarded by the medical establishment as ineffective and potentially dangerous.[9]


For his work on photosynthesis, Dean Burk received the Hillebrand Prize in 1952. Dean Burk and Otto Heinrich Warburg discovered the photosynthesis I-quantum reaction that splits CO2 activated by respiration.[10] For his techniques to distinguish between normal cells and those damaged by cancer, Dean Burk was awarded the Gerhard Domagk Prize in 1965.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Associated Press. (1988). Dean Burk, 84, Chemist for Cancer Institute. New York Times.
  2. ^ Lineweaver, H and Burk, D. (1934). "The Determination of Enzyme Dissociation Constants". Journal of the American Chemical Society 56 (3): 658–666. doi:10.1021/ja01318a036. .
  3. ^ Weiterentwicklung der zellphysiologischen Methoden: angewandt auf Krebs, Photosynthese und Wirkungsweise der Röntgenstrahlung: Arbeiten aus den Jahren 1945–1961, (Thieme, Stuttgart 1962) (Trans: Further Developments of Methods in Cellular Physiology applied to Cancer, Photosynthesis and the Effects of X-ray Radiation) Texts in German and English.
  4. ^ I Weisman, L. Bennett, L. Maxwell Sr., M. Woods, and D. Burk (1972)"Recognition of Cancer in vivo by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance", Science 178, 1288 – 1290.
  5. ^ Burk D, Schade AL. On respiratory impairment in cancer cells. Science. 1956 Aug 10;124(3215):270-2.
  6. ^ J Yiamouyiannis, D Burk "Fluoridation and cancer, age-dependence of cancer mortality related to artificial fluoridation" Fluoride 1977.
  7. ^ Consummer Health Articles: FLUORIDATION
  8. ^ a b 619 F. 2d 932 – Yiamouyiannis v. Consumers Union of United States Inc
  9. ^ Burk, D. (1970). Laetrile and Cancer. Science News.
  10. ^ Otto Warburg - Biography -
  11. ^ "Dean Burk, 84, Chemist for Cancer Institute". The New York Times. October 10, 1988.