Famous 21st Century Biochemists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Kary B. Mullis

Kary B. Mullis
6
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: December 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lenoir, North Carolina, United States
Biochemist Kary Mullis won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for inventing the polymerase chain reaction. He was also known for practicing clandestine chemistry and researching on hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD. He also wrote several books, including an autobiography named Dancing Naked in the Mind Field.

 2 Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna
4
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: February 19, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

American biochemist Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, who has made fundamental contributions in biochemistry and genetics, is best-known for her pioneering work in CRISPR gene-editing. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing a method for genome editing through CRISPR, marking them as the only two women to share science Nobel ever.

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 3 Peggy Whitson

Peggy Whitson
4
Famous As: Astronaut, Biochemist
Birthdate: February 9, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mount Ayr, Iowa, United States

The first woman to command the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson was born to farmers and decided to become an astronaut after watching the moon landing on TV. She also boasts of a PhD in biochemistry and has been a researcher and educator of biochemistry and genetic engineering.

 4 Alexander Shulgin

Alexander Shulgin
4
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: June 17, 1925
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States
Died: June 2, 2014

A pioneer of psychedelic drug synthesis, Alexander Shulgin came to be known as The Godfather of Ecstasy, for reinventing the drug MDMA, or ecstasy, for medical use. The Harvard drop-out, who later studied psychiatry and pharmacology, would often experiment his newly invented drugs on himself, his wife, and his friends.

 5 Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 28, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, England, UK

 6 Emmanuelle Charpentier

Emmanuelle Charpentier
4
Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: December 11, 1968
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Juvisy-sur-Orge, France

 7 Pierre Joliot

Pierre Joliot
4
Famous As: Biologist, Biochemist, Professor
Birthdate: March 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: 6th arrondissement of Paris
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 8 Tim Hunt

Tim Hunt
3
Famous As: Biochemist, Chemist
Birthdate: February 19, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Neston

Nobel Prize-winning British biochemist Tim Hunt is best known for his research on cell cycle regulation. He was the first to isolate cyclin, while studying sea urchins. His work helped scientists working on cancer research. He has been knighted for his achievements and has also won the Royal Medal.

 9 Eric Kandel

Eric Kandel
4
Famous As: Neurologist, Psychiatrist, Neuroscientist, Psychologist, Biochemist
Birthdate: November 7, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna

Nobel Prize-winning neurobiologist Eric Kandel is known for his research on the role of synapses in memory and learning. An Austrian Jew, he left his country with his family and moved to the U.S. in the wake of anti-Semitism. A doctor, specializing in psychiatry, he later taught at Columbia University.

 10 Paul Berg

Paul Berg
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: June 30, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York

Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Paul Berg is best known for his research on recombinant DNA techniques. The Stanford professor was born to Russian Jewish immigrants in New York and is a Penn State alumnus. He has also won the National Medal of Science, among other awards.

 11 Tomas Lindahl

Tomas Lindahl
3
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: January 28, 1938
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kungsholmen, Stockholm, Sweden

 12 Satoshi Ōmura

Satoshi Ōmura
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: July 12, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nirasaki, Yamanashi, Japan

 13 Tasuku Honjo

Tasuku Honjo
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Famous As: Immunologist
Birthdate: January 27, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

 14 Shannon Lucid

Shannon Lucid
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Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: January 14, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shanghai, China

Shannon Lucid once held the record for the longest space stay by any woman and by any American. Born in China, to missionaries, she was imprisoned by the Japanese, along with her parents, as an infant. The family then moved to the U.S., where Lucid studied at the University of Oklahoma.

 15 Shirley M. Tilghman

Shirley M. Tilghman
3
Famous As: Molecular biologist, University teacher, Biochemist
Birthdate: September 17, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Toronto

Shirley Marie Tilghman, the nineteenth President of Princeton University, currently the Emeritus Professor of Molecular Biology and Public Affairs, is considered to be one of the most influential female scientists of our time. Although she is no longer involved in active research she is known for her contributions in the fields of molecular genetics, especially in genomic imprinting.

 16 Paul L. Modrich

Paul L. Modrich
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: June 13, 1946
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Raton, New Mexico, United States

Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and Duke University professor Paul L. Modrich was born to a biology teacher and sports coach father. He studied at both MIT and Stanford and did his postdoctoral research at Harvard. He is best known for his discovery of DNA mismatch repair.

 17 Walter Gilbert

Walter Gilbert
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Famous As: Biochemist, Physicist, Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: March 21, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

American molecular biologist and Nobel laureate Walter Gilbert pioneered research on the sequence of nucleotide links in DNA and RNA molecules. The Harvard and Cambridge alumnus later taught at Harvard. He also co-established firms dealing with genetic engineering and pharmaceutical research and was part of the Human Genome Project.

 18 Stanley B. Prusiner

Stanley B. Prusiner
3
Famous As: Neurologist and Biochemist
Birthdate: May 28, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa, United States

The son of an architect, Stanley B. Prusiner earned the nickname "little Genius" for inventing a bug repellent in school. The Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and neurologist is best known for discovering prions, or proteins that cause diseases, and thus suggesting an explanation for the mad cow disease.

 19 Roger D. Kornberg

Roger D. Kornberg
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Famous As: biochemist, chemist, university teacher
Birthdate: April 24, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: St. Louis

American chemist Roger D. Kornberg studied at Harvard and Stanford and later taught at both these institutes. His research focuses on transcription, or the process of the conversion of DNA into RNA. Both he and his father have won the Nobel Prize, becoming the sixth father-son duo to achieve the feat.

 20 Robert Lefkowitz

Robert Lefkowitz
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: April 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States

Born into a family of Polish immigrants, Robert Lefkowitz grew up to be a cardiologist and biochemist, and later taught at Duke University. He is best known for his research on the signal-receiving receptor molecules, such as the GPCRs, which eventually won him a Nobel Prize.

 21 Elias Zerhouni

Elias Zerhouni
3
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: April 12, 1951
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nedroma, Algeria

Elias Zerhouni was born to a math professor in Algeria and later studied medicine, specializing in radiology, inspired by an uncle. He has been associated with the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University medical school. The former NIH director also developed the existing MRI and CAT scan technologies.

 22 Richard J. Roberts

Richard J. Roberts
3
Famous As: Biochemist, Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: September 6, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Derby, England,

Molecular biologist Richard J. Roberts is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning research on split genes. The Harvard alumnus had wished to be a detective as a child but changed his mind after being gifted a chemistry set. He was also made a Fellow of the Royal Society and knighted.

 23 Osamu Shimomura

Osamu Shimomura
3
Famous As: Chemist, Biochemist, Professor
Birthdate: August 27, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kyoto

 24 Stanley Cohen

Stanley Cohen
3
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: November 17, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: February 5, 2020

Nobel laureate Stanley Cohen was born to a Jewish immigrant tailor and initially worked as a bacteriologist. The American biochemist revolutionized science with his research on cellular growth factors, helping later scientists understand the development of cancer cells. He spent most of his career at the Washington and Vanderbilt universities.

 25 Margarita Salas

Margarita Salas
2
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: November 30, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Valdés, Spain
Died: November 7, 2019

 26 Thomas C. Südhof

Thomas C. Südhof
2
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: December 22, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Göttingen, Germany

German-American neuroscientist Thomas C. Südhof was a gifted musician in his early days, having mastered instruments such as the bassoon. He later won a Nobel Prize for his research on the chemical signaling in neurons, which helped later scientists understand neurological conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.

 27 Joseph L. Goldstein

Joseph L. Goldstein
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Famous As: Molecular Geneticist
Birthdate: April 18, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kingstree, South Carolina, United States

American molecular geneticist Joseph L. Goldstein was born to clothing store owner parents in South Carolina. He ended up winning a Nobel Prize for his research on cholesterol metabolism, which later helped researchers develop statin drugs. He currently chairs the molecular genetics department of the University of Texas.

 28 Bruce Ames

Bruce Ames
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Famous As: Biochemist, University teacher, Chemist
Birthdate: December 16, 1928
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City

University of California, Berkeley professor, biochemist, and geneticist Bruce Ames is largely known for his invention of the Ames test, used to test the ability of chemicals to cause mutations, and his studies on cancer and ageing. The Cornell and Caltech alumnus has been associated with the NIAMD, too.

 29 Thomas A. Steitz

Thomas A. Steitz
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Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: August 23, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: October 9, 2018

American biophysicist/biochemist and Yale University professor Thomas A. Steitz is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning work on the structure and function of ribosomes. The Harvard alumnus has also worked at molecular biology lab at Cambridge and has co-founded a pharma company that creates antibiotics based on ribosomes.

 30 James Rothman

James Rothman
2
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: November 3, 1950
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Haverhill, Massachusetts, United States

American cell biologist and biochemist James Rothman is best known for his ground-breaking research on cellular vesicles and membrane fusion, which laid the path for further research on immunological and neurological ailments. The Nobel laureate is a Yale and Harvard alumnus and has also taught at many prestigious universities.

 31 Arieh Warshel

Arieh Warshel
2
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: November 20, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kibbutz Sde-Nahum, Israel

Born in Israel, Arieh Warshel had been part of the Israeli Army before he moved to the U.S. for his PhD at Harvard University. His research on computational enzymology helped him create computer models of chemical reactions and earned him a Nobel Prize. He later established a computational biology institute.

 32 Paul D. Boyer

Paul D. Boyer
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Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: July 31, 1918
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Provo, Utah, United States

American biochemist, analytical chemist, and professor Paul Delos Boyer was the first Utah-born Nobel laureate. His elucidation of enzymatic mechanism underlying synthesis of adenosine triphosphate with John E. Walker led the two to jointly win the 1997 Nobel Prize in Chemistry which they co-received with Jens C. Skou for a separate research of the latter.

 33 Avram Hershko

Avram Hershko
2
Famous As: Biochemist, Educationist, University teacher
Birthdate: December 31, 1937
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Karcag

Born to Jewish teacher parents in Hungary, Avram Hershko spent a few years in a concentration camp during World War II. He and his family managed to escape and settled in Israel, where he became a renowned chemist, later winning the Nobel Prize for discovering how cells remove unwanted proteins.

 34 Edmond H. Fischer

Edmond H. Fischer
2
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: April 6, 1920
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shanghai, China

Born in China, to an Austrian-born lawyer, Edmond H. Fischer studied in a Swiss boarding school and also aspired to be a musician. The Nobel Prize-winning biochemist is now best known for his path-breaking research on reversible phosphorylation, which regulates cell protein activity. He also taught at the University of Washington.

 35 Gregory Winter

Gregory Winter
2
Famous As: British biochemst
Birthdate: April 14, 1951
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leicester, England

 36 Robert Huber

Robert Huber
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Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: February 20, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

 37 Frédérique Vidal

Frédérique Vidal
2
Famous As: Biochemist, Politician
Birthdate: May 9, 1964
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Monaco

 38 Daniel E. Koshland Jr.

Daniel E. Koshland Jr.
1
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: March 30, 1920
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: July 23, 2007

Daniel E. Koshland Jr. made his own fortune in science in spite of being the son of Levi Strauss CEO Daniel E. Koshland Sr. and one of the most affluent men in America. Apart from working on the Manhattan Project, he also created the induced fit model of enzyme catalysis.

 39 Norman Heatley

Norman Heatley
1
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: January 10, 1911
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Woodbridge, England
Died: January 5, 2004

 40 Arthur Peacocke

Arthur Peacocke
1
Famous As: Theologian and Biochemist
Birthdate: November 29, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Watford, England, United Kingdom
Died: October 21, 2006

 41 Max Beauvoir

Max Beauvoir
1
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: August 25, 1936
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Haiti
Died: September 12, 2015

 42 Mildred Cohn

Mildred Cohn
1
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: July 12, 1913
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: October 12, 2009

Apart from facing discrimination as a Russian Jew, Mildred Cohn also battled gender bias, being denied a promotion at NACA for being the only woman among the 70 staff members. Her pioneering use of NMR in the study of enzyme reactions later earned her a National Medal of Science.

 43 Hartmut Michel

Hartmut Michel
1
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: July 18, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ludwigsburg, Germany

 44 Marian Ewurama Addy

Marian Ewurama Addy
1
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: February 7, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nkawkaw, Ghana
Died: January 14, 2014

 45 Johann Deisenhofer

Johann Deisenhofer
1
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: September 30, 1943
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Zusamaltheim, Bavaria, Germany

 46 Bengt I. Samuelsson

Bengt I. Samuelsson
1
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: May 21, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Halmstad, Sweden

 47 David S. McKay

David S. McKay
0
Famous As: Astrobiology
Birthdate: September 25, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Titusville, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: February 20, 2013

David S. McKay was an astrobiologist who provided geology training to the first men to walk on the moon during the Apollo program in the 1960s. He worked as chief scientist for astrobiology at the Johnson Space Center. He extensively studied lunar dust and wrote over 200 papers on the topic. The asteroid 6111 Davemckay is named in his honor.  

 48 Sia Koroma

Sia Koroma
1
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: March 19, 1958
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kono District British Sierra Leone

 49 Paul M. Doty

Paul M. Doty
0
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: June 1, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Charleston, West Virginia, United States
Died: December 5, 2011

American biochemist Paul M. Doty served as Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry at Harvard University. His scientific works included characterization of biopolymers like DNA, collagen and proteins using optical methods like light scattering and circular dichroism. He was part of Manhattan Project and worked on isolating uranium during the Second World War, and later remained active in promoting nuclear disarmament and peace.

 50 John Woodland Hastings

John Woodland Hastings
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Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: March 24, 1927
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Salisbury, Maryland, United States
Died: August 6, 2014

John Woodland Hastings was one of the pioneers of the study on bioluminescence and circadian rhythms, or sleep cycles. He was part of a church choir in his younger days and grew up to study at Princeton University. The Harvard professor was also associated with the Massachusetts-based Marine Biological Laboratory.