Frederick Gowland Hopkins Biography

(English Biochemist Whose Discovery of Vitamins Earned Him 'Nobel Prize in Medicine' in 1929)

Birthday: June 20, 1861 (Gemini)

Born In: Eastbourne, United Kingdom

Fredrick Gowland Hopkins was a renowned biochemist from England who discovered the vitamins. His interest in science was developed by his father who himself was greatly attracted to the subject. After his father’s early demise he was brought up by his mother and he showed more interest in literature than in sciences. A microscope which was presented to him by his mother piqued the young lad’s interest. Apart from investigating specimens from the seashore Fredrick also devoted much of his time studying literature. He was always an intelligent student and at the tender of seventeen he penned his first scientific literature which dealt with bombardier beetle. After completing his graduate studies Hopkins appeared for the Associateship Examination of the Institute of Chemistry. His sterling performance landed him a research assistantship under Thomas Stevenson. Fredrick then went on to study medicine and even here proved his mettle by winning the Gold Medal in chemistry. After successfully completing his studies in medicine he embarked on an academic career teaching toxicology. In due course he began his most important work on proteins which led to the discovery of vitamins. The findings paved way for subsequent research in the field by scientists like Otto Meyerhof and even earned him a Nobel Prize. Read on to know more about his life and works
Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In June

Also Known As: Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins

Died At Age: 85


children: Jacquetta Hawkes

Biochemists British Men

Died on: May 16, 1947

place of death: Cambridge, United Kingdom

Notable Alumni: Guy's Hospital

Grouping of People: Nobel Laureates In Physiology

More Facts

education: King's College London, Guy's Hospital, Trinity College, Cambridge, University Of London

awards: 1929 - Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
1926 - Copley Medal
Royal Medal

Childhood & Early Life
Frederick Gowland Hopkins was born to Frederick Hopkins and Elizabeth Gowland Hopkins on June 20,1861 in the town of Eastbourne in Sussex, England. Hopkins’ father used to sell books but he also had a deep interest in science.
His father left this world at the time when Fredrick was still a toddler and his mother took care of his early education in Eastbourne. In the year 1871, the family moved to Enfield in London and the young lad took admission at the ‘City of London School’.
At the ‘City of London School’, Hopkins proved to be a bright student who excelled in academics and in the year 1874 he managed to get a first class in his favourite subject, chemistry graduating at the young age of 17.
After leaving school he worked as a clerk in an insurance firm and then became an associate at the ‘Institute of Chemistry’, where his findings on poisons were immensely appreciated. In the meantime, he took advantage of the ‘University of London External Programme’ and earned his B.Sc. in 1888.
In the year 1889, Frederick won the ‘Sir William Gull Studentship’ and took admission to ‘Guy’s Hospital’ to study medicine. It was five years later that he graduated with a degree.
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In the year 1894 he was appointed as a teacher at ‘Guy’s Hospital’, where he taught toxicology and around this time he also published an important paper on blood albumins with S. N. Pinkus.
It was in the year 1898 that Sir Henry Foster invited Frederick to work at the famous ‘Cambridge University’ to work on the research at the ‘Physiological Laboratory’ at the university. He was specifically asked to work on the chemical side of things as far as physiology was concerned.
In the year 1902, Hopkins was promoted as a reader in the subject of biochemistry and since the discipline was not a traditional subject of study he had to make do with his experiments in a small room at the university.
In the year 1910 Hopkins was made a ‘Fellow of Trinity College’ and then four years later he became an ‘Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College’. However, it was not till 15 years from becoming a Fellow did he get his own laboratory at the ‘Sir William Dunn Institute of Biochemistry’.
At the height of the First World War, Hopkins discovered what he termed as ‘accessory food factors’ or Vitamins and continued to work on it. As a matter of fact, it was his inputs that led to better and more nutritious margarine that could be used during food shortages.
He retired from his post at the ‘University of Cambridge’ in the year 1943.
Major Works
Other than discovering vitamins one of the most important studies that Hopkins performed was that of identifying a chemical method that would help in separating tryptophan. He succeeded in isolating it and studying its structure which opened new avenues in the world of biochemistry.
Awards & Achievements
In the year 1905 he was inducted into the ‘Royal Society of London’ which was the most important and prestigious institution of scientists in the United Kingdom.
He won the ‘Royal Medal’ in the year 1918 while eight years later he was given the prestigious ‘Copley Medal’.
King George V knighted him in the year 1925 for his contribution to the sciences.
In the year 1929, Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins was jointly awarded the Noble Prize with Christiaan Eijkman.
Personal Life & Legacy
Hopkins tied knot with Jessie Anne Stevens in the year 1898. The couple was blessed with daughters.
Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins passed away in Cambridge on May 16, 1947. His burial took place at the ‘Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground’.

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