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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nobel Laureates: Hans Fischer


The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1930.

"for his researches into the constitution of haemin and chlorophyll and especially for his synthesis of haemin"

Hans Fischer (1881-1945) determined the structure of "haemin," the prosthetic group in hemoglobin. We now refer to this molecule as heme. (Hemoglobin consists of a protein, globin, and a bound cofactor, heme.) The technical name for heme is Fe(II)-protoporphyrin IX (see figure below). In hemoglobin, oxygen is bound to the central iron atom.

Fischer worked out the structure of the porphyrin rings, a considerable feat in those days. He also discovered that the structure of chlorophyll was similar to that of heme.

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