Martha L. Ludwig

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Martha Ludwig

Martha Ludwig (August 16, 1931 – November 27, 2006) was an American macromolecular crystallographer.[1] She was the J. Lawrence Oncley Distinguished University Professor of Biological Chemistry at the University of Michigan.

Early life and education[edit]

Ludwig was born in Pittsburgh to Leon Ludwig (a physicist employed by the Westinghouse Company) and Agnes Sutermeister Ludwig,[1] a granddaughter of Arnold Sutermeister.[2] She studied Chemistry at Cornell University, followed by a master's degree in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.

Research career[edit]

While studying at Berkeley Ludwig took Howard Schachman's course in physical biochemistry; she later credited this course with setting the direction for her own research.[1] She completed her Ph.D. thesis on the biosynthesis of ergothionine at Cornell University Medical College, and followed this with postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1962 Ludwig's interests switched from classical techniques of biochemistry to the then-emerging field of X-ray crystallography and she joined the laboratory of William Lipscomb to work on the structure of carboxypeptidase. Ludwig determined the structure of the enzyme carboxypeptidase A. One of the first structures to be described.[3]

In 1967 Ludwig joined the University of Michigan, where she would remain for the rest of her career, as an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and an assistant research biophysicist in the Biophysics Research Division. Her laboratory focused on proteins involved in electron and group transfer reactions; over the next four decades it solved, amongst others, the structures of flavodoxin, the first flavoprotein structure, iron-superoxide dismutase, p-hydroxybenzoate hydroxylase[disambiguation needed] and phthalate dioxygenase reductase.[1]

When Ludwig died from complications of colon cancer on November 27, 2006, she was the J. Lawrence Oncley Distinguished University Professor of Biological Chemistry.[3]

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Matthews, Rowena G.: Martha L. Ludwig 1931-2006: A Biographical Memoir. National Academy of Sciences, 2011 [1]
  2. ^ genealogy on
  3. ^ a b "Distinguished professor Martha Ludwig dies at 75". Medicine at Michigan. Spring 2007. 
  4. ^ "Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "Recipients of Distinguished Faculty Achievement Awards". University of Michigan. Retrieved 14 October 2013.