Birthday: September 6, 1906
Notable Hispanic Scientists
Died At Age: 81
Sun Sign: Virgo
Born in: Paris, France
Famous as: Biochemist, Physician
Spouse/Ex-: Amelia Zuberbuhler
father: Federico Leloir
mother: Hortensia Aguirre de Leloir
Died on: December 2, 1987
place of death: Buenos Aires, Argentina
education: University of Buenos Aires
awards: Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (1967)
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1970)
Legion of Honour (1982)
Luis Federico Leloir was an Argentinean physician and biochemist who won the Noble Prize for Chemistry for finding out the processes which convert carbohydrates into energy in the body. He was born in France but moved to Argentina with his family when he was only two-year-old. He started his research work on the role of adrenalin on the metabolism of carbohydrates and the effects of fatty acids when oxidized. Later on he worked on the process in which carbohydrate entering the body was broken down by nucleotides to produce sugar which was stored in the body and then converted into energy. He proved to the world that true scientific research on an international level could be carried out in a third-world and underdeveloped country even when the country is gripped with political unrest. Lenoir was also a good craftsman which helped him build equipments required for carrying out his experiments. Funds for research in Argentina were not readily available at that time. In times of distress Leloir’s expertise in making his own equipment helped him tide over difficulties faced due to the unavailability of proper tools allowing him to continue with his work without any hindrance.
Childhood & Early Life
Luis Federico Leloir was born in Paris, France, on September 6, 1906 where his parents had come for medical treatment. His father, Federico Leloir was a non-practicing lawyer and his mother was Hortensia Aguirre de Leloir.
He returned to Argentina with his mother after his father died in Paris.
He did his initial schooling from the ‘Escuela General San Martin’ primary school, the ‘Colegio Lacordaire’ secondary school and finally the ‘Beumont College, England’ where he studied only for a few months.
He studied architecture for some time at the ‘Ecloe Polytechnique’ in Paris but had to abandon his studies due to poor grades.
He joined the ‘Department of Medicine’ at the University of Buenos Aires’ after returning to Argentina. He received his degree in medicine in 1932 and did his internship at the ‘Ramos Mejia Hospital’ in Buenos Aires from 1932 to 1934.
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Luis Federico Leloir joined the ‘Institute of Physiology’ under the ‘University of Buenos Aires’ as a research assistant and worked there with Bernardo A. Houssay on the role played by adrenalin on carbohydrate metabolism from 1934 to 1935.
He moved to the UK in 1936 and worked for one year at the ‘Biochemical Laboratory’ of ‘Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins Hospital’ under the ‘University of Cambridge’.
He returned to Argentina in 1937 and completed his doctoral work on the effect of the adrenal glands on carbohydrate metabolism.
He moved to the United States in 1943 due to political unrest in Argentina and joined the department of pharmacology at the ‘Washington University School of Medicine’ in St. Louis. While there, he worked with Carl F. and Gerty T. Cori at the ‘Cori’s Laboratory’ located in St. Louis.
In 1944 he joined the ‘College of Physicians and Surgeons’ under the ‘University of Columbia’ in New York as a research assistant and worked with D. E. Green.
He returned to Argentina in 1945 to work under Houssay again at the ‘Institut de Investigaciones Bioquimicas de la Fundacion Campomar’ or the ‘Campomar Biochemical Research Institute’ in Buenos Aires. In 1947 he was appointed the Director of the institute. Despite meager funding he started research on the formation and breakdown of lactose in the body which led to the discovery of nucleotides which help to store sugar in the body during the biosynthesis of carbohydrates.
By 1947 he had built up a team of scientists which included Raul Trucco, Alejandro Paldini, Enrico Cabib and others who helped him find out the reasons of hypertension due to a malfunctioning kidney.
He and his team discovered the sugar nucleotides responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates in the beginning of 1948 and later the primary mechanisms of galactose metabolism, presently known as ‘Leloir pathway’, which caused ‘galactesemia’.
When Jaime Campomar, the industrialist who had funded the Institute, died in 1956, the research work came to a halt due to lack of funds. Leloir arranged for funds from the ‘National Institute of Health’ in the United States to keep the research at the institute going.
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A fruitful collaboration between Leloir’s ‘Investigaciones Bioquimicas de la Fundacion Campomar’ and the ‘School of Sciences of Buenos Aires’ started in 1958 when the government sanctioned a new building for the institute.
Leloir was appointed the Head and Professor of the ‘Department of Biochemistry’ in the ‘University of Buenos Aires’ in 1962.
In 1983 he became one of the ‘Founding Fellows’ of the ‘Third World Academy of Sciences’ or TWAS which is currently known as the ‘Academy of Sciences for the Developing World’.
Leloir remained the director of the ‘Campomar Biochemical Research Institute’ till his death in 1987.
Luis Federico Leloirs’s articles and books include ‘Suprarrenales y Metabolismo de los hidratos de carbon (1934)’, ‘Farmacologia de la hipertensia (1940)’, ‘Hipertension arterial nefrogena (1943), ‘Invitro Synthesis of Particulate Glycogen’, ‘Properties of synthetic and native liver glycogen’and others.
Awards & Achievements
Luis Federico Leloir received the ‘Third National Science Award’ in 1943.
He was made a member of the ‘National Culture Commission of Argentina’ in 1944.
He received the ‘T. Ducett Jones Memorial Award’ and a membership of the ‘Helen Whyte Foundation of New York’ in 1958, the ‘Bunge and Born Foundation Award’ in 1965, the Canadian ‘Gairdner Foundation Award’ in 1966 and the ‘Louisa Gross Horowitz Award’ from the University of Columbia, USA’ in 1967.
He received the ‘Benito Juarez Mexico Award’, ‘Juan Jose Jolly Kyle Award’ from the ‘Argentina Chemistry Association’ and an honorary doctorate from the ‘Universidad Nacional de Cordoba’ in 1968.
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He was made an honorary member of the ‘English Biochemical Society’ in 1969.
He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1970.
He was awarded the ‘Orden de Andres Bello’ of the ‘Legion de Honor’ in 1971.
He was made a ‘Foreign Member of the Royal Society’ in 1972.
He was honored with the ‘Legion of Honor’ in 1982.
He received the ‘Diamond Konex Award: Science and Technology’ in 1983.
He also received awards from the ‘Severo Vaccaro Foundation’ of Argentina and was made a member of the ‘American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the ‘Academia Nacional de Medicina’, the ‘American Philosophical Society’ and the ‘Pntifical Academy of Sciences’
He received honorary degrees from several universities including the ‘Granada University, Spain’, the ‘University of Paris, France’, the ‘University of Tucuman, Argentina’ and the ‘La Plata University, Argentina’.
Personal Life & Legacy
He got married to Amelia Zuberbuhler in 1937 and had a daughter named Amelia.
Luis Federico Leloir died in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 2, 1987.
Luis Federico Leloir invented the ‘salsa golf’ in the 1920s which is a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise highly popular in Argentina.
He was liked by everybody for his unassuming, courteous and humorous temperament.