Butenandt, Adolf Friedrich Johann

Butenandt, Adolf Friedrich Johann,

1903–95, German biochemist, Ph.D. Univ. of Göttingen, 1927. Butenandt held academic posts at the Univ. of Göttingen (1927–33) and the Institute of Technology at Danzig (1933–36). From 1936 to 1960, he was a professor at the Univ. of Berlin and director of the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Berlin. In 1960, he was appointed president of the Max Planck Society in Munich, a position he held until 1972. Butenandt was corecipient of the 1939 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Leopold RužičkaRužička, Leopold Stephen or Lavoslav Stjepan
1887–1976, Swiss chemist, b. Croatia (then in Austria-Hungary), Dr.Ing. Technische Hochschule, Karlsruhe, Germany, 1910.
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; Butenandt was cited for his work on sex hormones. He is credited with elucidating the underlying structure of both male and female sex hormones. His work on the sex hormones led to the large-scale production of cortisonecortisone
, steroid hormone whose main physiological effect is on carbohydrate metabolism. It is synthesized from cholesterol in the outer layer, or cortex, of the adrenal gland under the stimulation of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).
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, which has been used to treat a broad array of medical conditions.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Butenandt, Adolf Friedrich Johann


Born Mar. 24, 1903, in Bremerhaven-Lehe. German biochemist (Federal Republic of Germany).

From 1931 to 1933, Butenandt was an assistant professor at the University of Göttingen and from 1933 to 1936, a professor at the Advanced Technical School in Danzig (now Gdansk). He then became the director of the institutes of biochemistry in Berlin (1936-44), Tübingen (1944-56), and Munich (since 1956). Since 1960 he has been president of the Max Planck Society.

Butenandt’s work has been devoted to the chemistry of sex hormones. He isolated androsterone and dehydroepian-drosterone from human urine (1931) and studied their chemical structure, carried out the synthesis of the sexual hormone testosterone, and in 1934 obtained the hormone of the corpus luteum—progesterone—in pure form. He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1939 (jointly with the Swiss scientist L. Ruzicka). He received the Ehrlich Prize for his studies on the biochemistry of insects’ hormonal substances.


Untersuchungen über das weibliche Sexualhormon. Berlin, 1931.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.