American Philosophical Society
Member History

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2. Biological Sciences[X]
201. Molecular Biology and Biochemistry[X]
1Name:  Dr. Rudolf K. Thauer
 Institution:  Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology; Philipps University Marburg
 Year Elected:  2018
 Class:  2. Biological Sciences
 Subdivision:  201. Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
 Residency:  International
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1939
Born 1939 in Frankfurt, Germany, I went to school in Wetter, Landshut, Philadelphia, USA (1947-1951) and Bad Nauheim and then studied Medicine and Biochemistry at the Universities of Frankfurt, Tubingen and Freiburg, where I ended my studies 1968 with a PhD in Biochemistry and a Thesis on the "Energy Metabolism of Clostridium kluyveri." Ever since then my scientific interest remained focused on how strictly anaerobic microorganisms conserve energy. Discoveries made were amongst others that carbon monoxide is an intermediate in autotrophic CO2 fixation via the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway and that the trace element nickel is required by many anaerobes as cofactor of carbon monoxide dehydrogenase, hydrogenases and methyl-coenzyme M reductase. The latter enzyme has a nickel tetrapyrrole as prosthetic group and catalyzes both methane formation and methane oxidation in Archaea. After a short postdoc in 1971 with Harland Wood at Case Western University Chicago, I was appointed in 1972 Associate Professor for Biochemistry at the Ruhr University in Bochum, in 1976 Full Professor for Microbiology at the Philipps University Marburg and in 1991 Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg. After my retirement as Director at the end of 2007 I continued research at the Max Planck Institute that led together with Wolfgang Buckel to the discovery of flavin-based electron bifurcation that changed our understanding how most anaerobes conserve energy.
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