Edmond H. Fischer

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Shanghai, China
Birth Sign
Shanghai, China

Edmond Henri Fischer was a Swiss-American biochemist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1992 with Edwin G. Krebs. He was born to Austro-French parents in Shanghai International Settlement (China). He was moved to Geneva for his studies when he was seven years old. He excelled so well in school and learned to play the piano so well that he considered becoming a professional musician for a time. He was raised at a boarding school far away from his parents. He first decided to pursue microbiology after earning his high school diploma. He was convinced to study chemistry because the science had not yet evolved in Europe. In the end, he studied both chemistry and biology, earning his doctorate at the University of Geneva on alpha-amylase. After that, he moved to the United States and became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington. He began working on the enzymology of glycogen phosphorylase there with Professor Edwin Gerhard Krebs. Reversible protein phosphorylation was eventually discovered as a biological regulating mechanism. They were awarded the Nobel Prize for it many years later. Fisher spent his whole career at the University of Washington, eventually retiring as a professor emeritus.

Childhood and Adolescence

Edmond Henri Fischer was born in Shanghai International Settlement, China, on April 6, 1920. Oscar Fischer, a doctorate in law and business from Austria, immigrated to Shanghai after completing his schooling in Vienna.

Renée Tapernoux, Edmond’s mother, was born in Switzerland. Her father worked as a journalist for the French newspaper L’Aurore before settling in Shanghai with his family.

Edmond started his schooling at l’Ecole Municipale Française, which his maternal grandfather founded. He was sent to La Châtaigneraie, a large boarding school in Geneva, with his two brothers, Raoul and Georges, when he was seven years old. Raoul Fischer went on to become a mechanical engineer, and Georges became an attorney.

Edmond began his secondary studies in 1935 at the Collège de Genève (now known as the Collège de Calvin). At the same time, he was studying piano at the Geneva Conservatory of Music with Johnny Aubert. He considered doing it professionally at one point, but ultimately decided against it.

Edmond obtained his Maturité Fédérale in 1939. He wanted to pursue microbiology at first, but Professeur of Bacteriology Fernand Chodat discouraged him because there was no scope for it in Switzerland. As a result, he enrolled in the University of Geneva’s School of Chemistry.

He studied inorganic chemistry for the first two years and was underwhelmed. Organic chemistry, on the other hand, piqued his attention. He studied biology at the University of Geneva at the same time and received his Licences ès Science in both chemistry and biology in 1945.

Later, he began his doctoral studies under Prof. Kurt H. Meyer, Head of the Department of Organic Chemistry, on the purification procedure of hog pancreatic amylase, getting his PhD in 1947. ‘La purification et l’isolement de l’alpha-amylase de pancréas’ was the title of his dissertation.

A Career of Edmond H. Fischer

Edmond H. Fischer joined the University of Geneva as a Privat Docent in Enzymology shortly after getting his degree in 1947 and remained there until 1953. He researched on polysaccharides with Prof. Kurt H. Meyer there, which are a prevalent source of energy in many foods.

In Europe at the time, the field of enzymology was still in its infancy. As a result, he decided to pursue postdoctoral study in the United States of America. Professor Meyer’s death in April 1952 heightened his desire to visit overseas.

Fischer received a Swiss Postdoctoral Fellowship in 1953 and moved to the United States. His final destination was Pasadena’s California Institute of Technology. When he arrived in New York, he discovered that his buddies had planned seminars in Pittsburg and Madison.

Despite job offers from both cities, he relocated to Pasadena and joined Caltech. However, he received another offer from the University of Washington in Seattle within a short time. He accepted the offer since the location reminded him of Switzerland, where he had lived since he was seven years old.

As a result, Fischer became an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington in 1953. There were only seven faculty members in the department, and they all became fast friends. He worked closely with Edwin Gerhard Krebs, a 1948 graduate of the university.

Fischer and Krebs began working together on the enzymology of glycogen phosphorylase within six months of Fischer’s arrival at Washington University, attempting to clarify the role of AMP in the phosphorylase reaction. However, they were not effective; instead, they discovered that phosphorylation-dephosphorylation regulated muscle phosphorylase.

Fischer and Krebs collaborated closely, yet they kept their own groups and conducted different research. For example, while Krebs’ group continued to work on DPNH-X, a NADH derivative, Fischer and his University of Geneva colleague, Eric Stein, continued their research on alpha-amylases.

They were, however, equally focused on their research on glycogen phosphorylase. They planned the experiments together every night and carried them out the next day. If one of them had to leave the laboratory in the middle of something, the other would immediately take it over.

Fischer and Krebs were able to isolate and purify phosphorylase, an enzyme that works as a catalyst when an inorganic phosphate group is given to an acceptor as a phosphate group. They also discovered protein kinases and phosphatases, which are enzymes that catalyze the attachment and dissociation of phosphate groups.

They learned how reversible protein phosphorylation acts as a switch to activate proteins and regulate many biological activities by the middle of the 1950s. This discovery not only spurred more research, but it also garnered them the coveted Nobel Prize on a personal level.

Fischer was promoted to full professor in 1961 and remained in that position until 1990, when he retired and became a professor emeritus at the same university. Fischer continued his study on reversible protein phosphorylation, looking into its significance in many physiological processes in addition to his academic obligations.

Major Projects of Edmond H. Fischer

Fischer’s most significant contribution to biochemistry is his collaboration with Krebs on reversible protein phosphorylation. They began by investigating how muscles obtain energy to contract or expand, and found a phenomena known as’reversible protein phosphorylation’ in the process.

They stated that a kinase enzyme called protein kinase transports a phosphate group from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to a protein, changing its form and function in the process. The modified protein can now participate in the necessary biological process.

When the process is finished, the phosphate is removed by a protein phosphatase, and the protein returns to its original condition. Reversible protein phosphorylation therefore regulates a wide range of metabolic functions, including blood pressure, brain messages, immunological responses, and so on.

Awards of Edmond H. Fischer

Fischer and Krebs shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1992 “for their findings regarding reversible protein phosphorylation as a biological regulating mechanism.”

Fischer was also honored by the Swiss Chemical Society with the Werner Prize and the University of Geneva with the Prix Jaubert.
In 1972, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as a Fellow. He was then elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1973.
He was made a Foreign Member of the Royal Society in 2010. (ForMemRS).

HisPersonal Experiences

Edmond H. Fischer married Nelly Gagnaux in 1948 while working at the University of Geneva. François and Henri Fischer were the couple’s two sons. Nelly passed away in 1961.
Fischer married Beverley Bullock in 1963. He has a stepdaughter, Paula Bullock, from Beverley’s first marriage, from this union.

Fischer initially learned of his Nobel Prize win over the phone from CBS New York. He was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of someone trying to sell him stocks. As the news began to sink in, he called his long-time secretary and instructed her to watch the 6 a.m. news because something had occurred that would cause her a lot of work. Her response was, ” “Please don’t tell me. I understand. You’ve misplaced all of your plane tickets. Again.”

‘Here’s how,’ he said when asked if the Nobel Prize had influenced his life. Do you see the limo that’s waiting for us down the hall? ‘It would have been a Yellow Cab two years ago.’

Estimated  Net Worth

Edmond H. has a net worth of $3 million and $5 million. The majority of Edmond H.’s earnings came from his Yeezy sneakers. While he had overstated the size of his business throughout the years, the money he made from it was real–enough to make him one of the richest celebrities of all time. His primary source of income was as a successful biochemist.