EXHIBITS: Paprika and Muscles

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Science  01 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5731, pp. 27
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5731.27a

Luckily for science, the young Albert Szent-Györgyi (1893- 1986) had a steady hand and knew anatomy. After 2 years as a frontline medic for Austria-Hungary in World War I, the future biochemist and Nobel laureate shot himself in the upper arm and blamed enemy fire. The well-placed wound liberated Szent-Györgyi from the trenches and allowed him to complete medical school.

That's one of the historical tidbits you'll find at this new biographical site. Szent-Györgyi went on to isolate vitamin C, eventually producing large quantities for research from the paprika peppers of his native Hungary. Nabbing the vitamin and discovering several steps of the Krebs cycle, the biochemical process that generates most of the cell's energy source, ATP, earned him the 1937 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. His career spanned continents—he worked and studied across Europe before joining the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts—and fields. For instance, he also identified actin, one of the proteins that power muscle contraction. Part of the National Library of Medicine's Profiles in Science series, the site stashes 72 years' worth of Szent-Györgyi's research papers, along with photos and reminiscences from colleagues.


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