Ernst Boris Chain

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Chain, Ernst Boris


Born June 19, 1906, in Berlin. British biochemist. Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1949).

Chain received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Berlin in 1930. In 1933 he emigrated to Great Britain. He conducted research at the School of Biochemistry in Cambridge from 1933 to 1935 and at Oxford University from 1935 to 1948. From 1948 to 1961 he was scientific director of the International Research Center for Chemical Microbiology in Rome; beginning in 1950, he was also a professor at the center. In 1961 he became a professor of biochemistry at the University of London.

Chain’s major works deal with antibiotics, the mechanism of the action of insulin, the technology of microbiological products, the formation of lysergic acid, and fungal metabolites. In 1939 he headed research on the isolation and purification of penicillin, which finally yielded a salt of penicillin in crystalline form. He established the chemical structure of penicillin.

Chain is a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1976). He received a Nobel Prize in 1945, with A. Fleming and H. Florey.


Landmarks and Perspectives in Biochemical Research. London, 1964.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Ernst Chain, a researcher at Oxford University, is astonished by the power of the substance Fleming had named penicillin.
Nevertheless, Oxford University researchers Howard Florey and Ernst Chain continued to explore the practical applications of penicillin and, in early 1939, applied to the government-run Medical Research Council in England for funding.
Eleven years later,its potential was realised by Herbert Florey,a professor of pathology,and Ernst Chain, abiochemist.