Theorell, Axel Hugo Teodor

Theorell, Axel Hugo Teodor,

1903–82, Swedish biochemist, M.D. Caroline Institute, Stockholm, 1930. The results of an illness caused him to abandon his career as a physician, and he began to teach at the Univ. of Uppsala. He became (1937) professor of biochemistry and later head of the department at the Nobel medical institute, Stockholm. He was awarded the 1955 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries concerning oxidation enzymes. Theorell was also the first to produce a pure form of myoglobin, the red-colored protein of muscles.

Theorell, Axel Hugo Teodor


Born July 6, 1903, in Linköping. Swedish biochemist. President of the Swedish Academy of Science from 1967 to 1969. Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, fellow of the Royal Society of London (1959), and member of other academies.

After graduating from the Caroline Institute in Stockholm in 1930, Theorell worked at the institute. From 1932 to 1936 he worked at the University of Uppsala, and from 1933 to 1935, with O. Warburg at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. From 1937 to 1970 he was a professor at the Nobel Medical Institute in Stockholm, where he also served as director of the institute and head of the department of biochemistry. He received an honorary doctorate from the Sorbonne in 1951, and he was president of the International Union of Biochemistry from 1967 to 1973.

Theorell’s main works were on the chemistry and mechanism of action of enzymes. He was the first to purify and obtain in crystalline form myoglobin, the peroxidases found in horseradish and milk, cytochrome c, alcohol dehydrogenase, and Warburg’s “old yellow enzyme,” or reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP) dehydrogenase. In 1934 he was the first to divide NADP dehydrogenase into a protein and a coenzyme (riboflavin 5’-phosphate) and to reconstitute the active enzyme from its components.

Theorell studied the mechanism of action of alcohol dehydrogenase and investigated isoenzymes and their formation and effect. He received a Nobel Prize in 1955.