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NIH Eminent Scientist Profiles

Christian Boehmer Anfinsen (1916–1995)

Christian B. Anfinsen, M.D., was a biochemist who spent most of his career at the NIH, arriving at the National Heart Institute (now called the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) in 1950 and subsequently appointed, in 1962, as chief of the Laboratory of Chemical Biology at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases (now the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases), where he remained until 1981. Elected to the National Academy of Science in 1963, Dr. Anfinsen would go on to share one half of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1972 "for his work on ribonuclease, especially concerning the connection between the amino acid sequence and the biologically active conformation."

The NIH Stetten Museum maintains an exhibit honoring the life and accomplishments of Christian Anfinsen, title "Protein Folding and the Nobel Prize," on display in the NIH Clinical Center, Building 10. In addition to Dr. Anfinsen's Nobel biography and acceptance speech, other resources include:

Dr. Anfinsen's Own Reflections
Autobiographical sketch for Swarthmore College by Anfinsen, 1987 (PDF, 316 kB)
Speech at the Weizmann Institute Board of Governors Conference by Anfinsen, 1984 (PDF, 194 kB)
"Scientific Ties and Human Rights," Letter to journal Science by Anfinsen et al., 1979 (PDF, 168 kB)
"Here We Go," poem submitted to New Yorker Magazine, 1966 (PDF, 38 kB)

NIH Publications
Biography in National Library of Medicine’s Profiles in Science (PDF, 17 mB)

Journal Publications
Tribute in Nature by Frederic Richards, 1995 (PDF, 2 mB)
Tribute in Structural Biology by Alan Schechter, 1995 (PDF, 689 kB)

Non-journal Publications
New York Times Obituary, 1995 (PDF, 74 kB)
Press release by Johns Hopkins University announcing death, 1995 (PDF, 16 kB)
Tribute speech at dedication of Christian B. Anfinsen Memorial Garden, Weizmann Institute, by wife Libby Anfinsen, 1995 (PDF, 318 kB)
Announcement of Weizmann Institute Appointment in the Jewish Post, 1970 (PDF, 126 kB)

photo of Anfinsen

Christian Boehmer Anfinsen U.S. National Library of Medicine