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Edwin G. Krebs

Dr Edwin Gerhard Krebs (born June 6, 1918) is an American biochemist. He received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research and the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize in 1989 together with Alfred Gilman winner of Nobel Prize in medicine in 1994 and, together with his collaborator Edmond H. Fischer, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1992 for describing how reversible phosphorylation works as a switch to activate proteins and regulate various cellular processes.

Krebs was born in Lansing, Iowa, the third child of William Carl Krebs, a Presbyterian minister and Louise Helen (Stegeman) Krebs. The family moved frequently due to the nature of his father's work, though they settled in Greenville, Illinois when Krebs was six and remained there until his father's unexpected death in 1933. Louise Krebs decided to move her family to Urbana, Illinois, where Krebs' elder brothers were attending the University of Illinois. Krebs attended Urbana High School, and enrolled at the University of Illinois in 1936. In his fourth year of study Krebs had decided to either pursue a higher degree in organic chemistry or study medicine. Receiving a scholarship to attend Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, he chose the latter.

The School of Medicine afforded Krebs the opportunity to train as a physician as well as experience in medical research. Following graduation in 1943, he undertook an 18-month residency at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis and then went on active duty as a medical officer in the Navy. Krebs was discharged from the Navy in 1946 and unable to immediately return to hospital work; he was advised to study basic science instead. He chose to study biochemistry and was postdoctoral fellow to Carl and Gerty Cori, working on the interaction of protamine with rabbit muscle phosphorylase. At the completion of his two years' study, Krebs decided to continue his career as a biochemist.

In 1948 Krebs accepted a position as assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington, Seattle. When Edmond H. Fischer arrived at the Department in 1953, the pair decided to work on the enzymology of phosphorylase. During the course of their study they were able to observe mechanism by which interconversion of the two forms of phosphorylase takes place: reversible protein phosphorylation.

Explained simply, reverse protein phosphorylation works like this: a protein kinase moves a phosphate group from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to a protein. The shape and the function of the protein is altered enabling it to take part in some biological process. When the protein has completed its role a protein phosphatase removes the phosphate and the protein reverts to its original state. This cycle takes place to control an enormous number of metabolic processes. For the key discovery of reversible protein phosphorylation, Fischer and Krebs were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1992.

Krebs' interest in teaching and administration led him to leave the University of Washington to become the founding chairman of the Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of California, Davis. In 1977 he returned to the University of Washington as Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology.[1]


  • Hughes, R. 1998. After the Prize
  • Krebs, E.G. Autobiography
  • The Official Site of Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Edwin_G._Krebs". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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