Eduard Buchner

Biography

On May 20, 1860, Eduard Buchner is born in Munich, the son of Friederike Buchner, née Martin, and Dr. Ernst Buchner, physician and Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Munich. From 1884 to 1888, he studies Chemistry with Adolf von Baeyer at the University of Munich, where he completes his doctoral work in 1888 and habilitates in 1891.

In 1896, he accepts an appointment at the University of Tübingen, where he publishes a study titled "On Alcoholic Fermentation without Yeast Cells" on January 9, 1897. In 1898, he moves on to the Agricultural College in Berlin.

In 1907, he is awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of cell-free fermentation. Two years later, he takes on a professorship at the University of Breslau.

Another two years later, in 1911, Buchner is appointed to the University of Würzburg. With the outbreak of World War I, he is enlisted in the military. He works in a field hospital near Folkschani in Rumania, where, on August 3, 1917, he is wounded by a grenade, succumbing to his injuries in Munich on August 12, 1917.

Research/Nobel Prize

As a chemist, Buchner was a keen observer and critical investigator. According to the received theory of fermentation, it could only be brought about by living yeast cells. By relatively simple fermentation experiments with chemically killed yeast cells, Buchner was able to prove that not the living yeast cells were essential to fermentation, but a particular enzyme produced by the cells. Buchner stated, "As to the theory of fermentation, the following conclusions have to be drawn so far. First, it is proven that, for the initiation of the fermentation process, no complicated apparatus such as constituted by the yeast cell is required. Rather, a dissolved substance, undoubtedly a protein, has to be regarded as the carrier of the fermentation effect. This protein shall be named zymase." With these findings, Buchner laid the cornerstone for modern Enzymology.

Working and Living in Würzburg

After a brief interlude in Breslau, Julius-Maximilians University called Buchner to Würzburg. Happy times began for the new Professor.
As enthusiastic a huntsman as Röntgen, he was able to indulge his passion in his spare time, and for the avid and competent mountaineer, the Alps were not far away. He took up residence in a villa built expressly for the Chairman of the Institute. Writing to Harries, he claimed, "you still feel the spirit of Emil Fischer, who once reigned here."