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Robert Bruce Merrifield

( Chemist, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1984.)

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Biography Robert Bruce Merrifield
Merrifield, Robert Bruce (Merrifield, Robert Bruce) (p. 1921) (USA). Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1984.
Born in Fort Worth (Texas), the only son in the family of George Lucas and Louren Merrifield. Two years after his birth family Merrifield moved to California and during the Depression 30's continued to move from place to place, tk. father Merrifield (furniture retailer) is constantly searching for work. Merrifield attended 40 schools before his family settled in Montebello (California). Here, learning in high school, he became interested in chemistry and constructed a small telescope.

After finishing school in 1938, he entered the Junior College in Pasadena, but the following year moved to the University of California at Los Angeles, where he began to study chemistry. Simultaneously, he worked in a laboratory M. Dunne, at this time synthesized degidroksifeniladenin - amino acid that is used to treat Parkinson's disease.

Received the University of California in 1943, a bachelor's degree within one year worked as a chemist at the Research Foundation FR Park, and then returned to the University, graduate studies. Later (1948-1949), . in medical school, University of California at Los Angeles as an assistant researcher at the JW Woolley, . which profoundly influenced not its emergence, . Merrifield studied yeast purines and pyrimidines, and developed a system of quality bioanalysis that, . how they contribute to the growth of bacteria,

In 1949 he was awarded a doctoral degree in chemistry, and he was appointed assistant in biochemistry at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University) in New York. In this institute he remained until the end of the academic career researcher (1953), Adjunct Professor (1958) and, finally, full professor (1966).

Here he developed an automated system of peptide synthesis, and in 1985 was awarded the Nobel Prize 'for the development of methodology for chemical synthesis of solid-phase'.

In 1953 took up chemistry of proteins. 'Proteins - are the key components of all living organisms, - he explained later. - All enzymes are catalysts of biological reactions, and many of them regulating hormones - proteins. If we want to understand and learn how to control what happens in the body, we must first know the composition, structure and function of each individual protein '.

In 1959, Merrifield wrote: 'for a quick, quantitative, automated method for the synthesis of long peptide chains'. If the first amino acid formed insoluble carrier, the unwanted by-products and reagents can be washed out from the reaction vessel after each stage, and the growing polypeptide remains intact while. When the synthesis process is completed, the final polypeptide may be separated from the carrier and purified by conventional methods. Supported Woolley he devoted the next three years developing a better method of synthesis of polypeptides.

Effective medium for the first amino acid was a copolymer of styrene with divinylbenzene. In 1962, reported that in a relatively short period of time, a new method, called solid phase peptide synthesis, has provided nearly quantitative yield of the desired polypeptides. Applying this method, Merrifield and his colleagues synthesized nonapeptidny hormone bradykinin - potent agent that causes vasodilatation. Working in the basement of his house along with the Assistant J. Stewart with the assistance of technology from the workshop, Merrifield in 1965 created the first working model of automated devices for solid-phase peptide synthesis. This device is a container for amino acids and reagents - the reaction vessel with automatic inlet and outlet valves and policy mechanisms that regulate the sequence of the process.

With the apparatus designed Merrifield and his colleagues synthesized several peptide hormones, including bradykinin, oxytocin, and angiotensin (octapeptide, which regulates blood pressure). They also received the protein insulin (containing 51 amino acids in two chains) in only 20 days, whereas previously this process takes several months.

Opponents of the new technology claimed that obtained with the help of peptide sequences were not pure. Recognizing that the problem of purity existed from the beginning of his work, Merrifield preferred a pragmatic approach to 'the best use of currently available methods of synthesis, isolation and characteristics of the reaction products'. 'Improvements in the methods of separation appear continuously, - he said. - And what now seems unattainable, tomorrow may be surprisingly simple '. The problem of purification of the reaction product will soon helped to develop a method to solve high-performance liquid chromatography.

In 1969, Merrifield has completed the first successful synthesis of the enzyme ribonuclease. Merrifield method provides for 369 chemical reactions and 11 931 individual steps, which required several weeks of continuous operation of solid-phase synthesizer.

The method of Merrifield made a real revolution in chemical synthesis and has a powerful impact on the development of different areas of biochemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology, etc.. According to many authoritative scholars opening Merrifield had a great influence on myself thinking of specialists.

In 1968, Merrifield was a visiting professor at the Nobel Prize in Uppsala University in Sweden. Since 1969 he worked as deputy chief editor of the journal for the Study of peptides and proteins 'International Journal of Peptide and Protein Research'.

Lives in Merrifield Kresskille (New Jersey).

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Robert Bruce Merrifield, photo, biography
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