Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Donald E. Nicholson (1916 - 2012)

Donald Nicholson died last May. He was 96 years old.

Nicholson was a professor of biochemistry at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. He started drawing metabolic charts back in 1955 and they gradually evolved into the works of art that you have seen in all the textbooks and on the walls of labs in offices in biochemistry departments around the world. I doubt that there's a single biochemist that hasn't studied these charts at some time during their undergraduate experience.

Lately his metabolic charts have been the property of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) but many of them have been marketed by Sigma-Aldrich [Metabolic Pathways].

Recent additions have included several minimaps of specific pathways such as those involved in lipid metabolism, glycolysis, the urea cycle etc. It's sad that we won't see any additions to this collection or any updates.



5 comments :

  1. Wow, his posters are amazingly detailed. It makes me appreciate how many pathways you don't see in an undergraduate Biochemistry degree. Definitely going to order one of these.

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  2. When I was a graduate student in the 1960s nearly every "wet" lab had a chart on the wall that showed General Metabolism. In the middle was the recognizable circle of the Krebs cycle.

    Were those charts done by Nicholson, or were they predecessors of his?

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    1. They were likely done by Nicholson. As he decsribes in the video, these charts were handed out at FASEB meetings.

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  3. I have one of these hanging in my office for only one reason: to illustrate and remind others that a [reasonable] model of a living cell is not going to happen any time soon (if ever).

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    1. The one in my office and the one in my book are there for the exact opposite reason. :-)

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