Karl August Folkers

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Karl August Folkers
Karl August Folkers
Born(1906-09-01)September 1, 1906
DiedDecember 7, 1997(1997-12-07) (aged 91)
Known forvitamin B12
AwardsACS Award in Pure Chemistry (1941)
Perkin Medal (1960)
William H. Nichols Medal (1967)
Welch Award (1972)
Priestley Medal (1986)
National Medal of Science (1990)
Scientific career
University of Texas at Austin

Karl August Folkers (September 1, 1906 – December 7, 1997) was an American biochemist who made major contributions to the isolation and identification of bioactive natural products.[2][1]


Folkers graduated from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois in 1928. In 1986, the institution awarded him its Alumni Achievement Award.[3]

His career was mainly spent at Merck. He played a prominent role in the isolation of vitamin B12 in 1947, which is one of the most structural complex of the vitamins.[4] As a Merck Pharmaceuticals research team, Folkers, Fern P. Rathe, and Edward Anthony Kaczka were the first to isolate the antibiotic cathomycin in 1955.[5] His team also isolated the antibiotic cycloserine.[6] In 1958 his Merck team determined the structure of coenzyme Q10.[7]

He later served as director of the Institute of Biomedical Research at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was also Ashbel Smith Professor of Chemistry.[3]

In recognition for his scientific contributions, he received the Perkin Medal in 1960,[8] the William H. Nichols Medal in 1967,[9] the Priestley Medal in 1986, and the National Medal of Science in 1990.


  1. ^ a b c Olson, R E (September 1, 2001). "Karl August Folkers (1906–1997)". Journal of Nutrition. 131 (9): 2227–30. doi:10.1093/jn/131.9.2227. PMID 11533258.
  2. ^ Shive, William (2002). "Karl August Folkers, September 1, 1906 – December 9, 1997". Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. 81: 100–14. PMID 12661556.
  3. ^ a b "Alumni Achievement Award (Est. 1957)". University of Illinois Alumni Association. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  4. ^ Narins, Brigham. (2001). Notable Scientists From 1900 to the Present, Volume 2. Gale Group. p. 749. ISBN 9780787617530 "Folkers isolated vitamin B12 in 1947, and spent the following eight years elucidating its complex- atom structure; it is used in the treatment of pernicious anemia. He synthesized pantothenic acid in 1940, and biotin in 1945."
  5. ^ Acc. 90-105 - Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Smithsonian Institution Archives. Accessed 29 July 2013. http://siarchives.si.edu/collections/siris_arc_297416
  6. ^ Kuehl, Frederick A.; Wolf, Frank J.; Trenner, Nelson R.; Peck, Robert L.; Buhs, Rudolf P.; Howe, Eugene; Putter, Irvin; Hunnewell, Berl D.; Ormond, Robert; Downing, George; Lyons, John E.; Newstead, E.; Chaiet, Louis; Folkers, Karl (1955). "D-4-amino-3-isoxazolidone, a new antibiotic". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 77 (8): 2344–2345. doi:10.1021/ja01613a105.
    Stammer, Charles H.; Wilson, Andrew N.; Holly, Frederick W.; Folkers, Karl (1955). "Synthesis of D-4-amino-3-isoxazolidone". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 77 (8): 2346–2347. doi:10.1021/ja01613a107.
  7. ^ "History of CoQ10". 26 February 2015.
  8. ^ "SCI Perkin Medal". Science History Institute. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  9. ^ "NY-ACS Nichols Medalists". www.newyorkacs.org.

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