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Otto Heinrich Warburg

WARBURG, OTTO HEINRICH (1883–1970), German biochemist and Nobel Prize winner; Warburg was born in Freiburg, Baden, the son of the physicist Emil Warburg (1846–1931), and, like his father, was baptized. He worked on radiation physics in the Physikalische Reichanstalt Berlin-Charlottenburg, of which his father was president from 1906 to 1922. In 1918 he went to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut fuer Biologie in Berlin-Dahlem, and for over 30 years from 1930 was director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut fuer Zellphysio logie. He was one of the very few scientists of Jewish descent who remained undisturbed in his position during the Nazi period. He never taught, except for directing his research associates. Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1931 "for his discovery of the nature and mode of action of the respiratory enzyme." Warburg also designed a manometric apparatus for measuring the respiration of cells, tissues, or extracts of tissues, and an inhibition technique employing carbon monoxide, which are both widely used by biochemists all over the world.

Warburg contributed to scientific journals, and wrote several books, including Stoffwechsel der Tumoren (1926; The Metabolism of Tumours, 1930); Katalytische Wirkungen der lebendigen Substanz (1928); and Heavy Metal Prosthetic Groups and Enzyme Action (1949).


T.N. Levitan, Laureates: Jewish Winners of the Nobel Prize (1960), 141–3.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.