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Edwin Krebs

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 02 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1224

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Geoff Watts

    Discovered the mechanism of reversible protein phosphorylation, which much drug research seeks to exploit

    Throughout his career as a biochemist working on the control of cellular metabolism, Edwin Krebs was periodically confused with the 1953 Nobel prize winner, Hans Krebs, who also worked on metabolic pathways. “Ah yes, Dr Krebs,” people familiar with the science but not the scientist would say. “We know your work, of course. The Krebs cycle.” What Edwin Krebs didn’t know as he politely put them right was that the error would, in due course and one respect, correct itself. In 1992 Edwin Krebs too won a Nobel prize. But the 35 year gap between the publication of the winning work and the decision to award the prize meant that he had, in effect, spent several decades denying an honour which, albeit unknowingly, he’d already earned.

    Krebs won the prize jointly with Edmond Fischer, now emeritus professor of biochemistry at Seattle’s University of Washington. The two began working together in the mid-1950s. Using rabbit muscle, and while tackling a rather different problem, they discovered the first example of the regulation of a biological process by reversible phosphorylation: the attachment and detachment of a phosphate group …

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