James B. Sumner Biography
Birthday: November 19, 1887 (Scorpio)
Born In: Canton, Massachusetts, United States
James B. Sumner was an American chemist who received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1946 for his isolation of the enzyme called ‘urease’. He established the fact that enzymes had a nature similar to that of proteins which was a controversial topic at that time. He was the first scientist to isolate and crystallize the enzyme which is found in jack beans. His discovery was not taken seriously initially as everybody thought that isolating the enzyme was not possible. He was especially ridiculed by the famous German chemist Richard Willstatter who thought that what Sumner claimed was completely impossible. When another chemist named John H. Northrop was successful in isolating another enzyme called ‘Pepsin’ in 1930 at the ‘Rockfeller Institute, Sumner was given credit for his initial discovery. His research was initially based on analytical methods which did not produce any mentionable results though he worked hard. He then decided to isolate the ‘urease’ enzyme in pure form which had not been attempted previously. When it was proven that he had indeed derived an enzyme from his experiments, it seemed that he had devised a general process for isolating and crystallizing enzymes which had been never done before. He shared his Nobel Prize with Northrop and Wendell M. Stanley for this discovery.