Nobel Laureate Biochemist Bloch Dies
Konrad Emil Bloch, 88, a Harvard University professor emeritus of biochemistry, died of congestive heart failure on Oct. 15. He passed away at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass.
In 1964, Bloch received the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology. He shared the award with Feodor Lynen, a biochemist from Munich. The men received the prize "for their discoveries concerning the mechanism and regulation of the cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism," according to the transcript of the award presentation speech.
Emery Professor of Organic Chemistry Elias J. Corey said their discovery had a great effect on future drug development, and was used widely in medicine to control cholesterol levels and diseases of the circulatory system.
Corey, a colleague of Bloch's for 40 years, said he remembers him as "an example of a superlative scientist and extremely nice person."
He was "a great scientist, excellent teacher, splendid colleague, and a fine human being for which we will miss him all the more," he said.
Corey said Bloch's work was "interesting in the scientific view and had beneficial implications for human well-being."
Born in 1912 in Neisse, Germany to Jewish parents, Bloch had to flee because of religious and racial persecution. He graduated from Munich Technische Hochschule in 1934.
In 1938, two years after his arrival in the United States, he received his doctorate in biochemistry from Columbia University.
Before entering the Harvard faculty, Bloch taught at the University of Chicago from 1946 to 1954.
Tenured in 1954, Bloch was Higgins Chair of Biochemistry until 1982.
He became the chair of the chemistry department in 1968.
In addition, he served as a professor of science at the Harvard School of Public Health from 1979 to 1984.
Dean of the Faculty of Public Health Barry R. Bloom, who was this year's Konrad Bloch lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said one of Bloch's most important achievements was working out the pathway for the biosynthesis of cholesterol.
"It was one of the most challenging problems that had ever been undertaken in biochemistry at that point," Bloom wrote in an e-mail message. "His findings raised the level of complexity that could be dealt with in biochemistry."
Bloom called Bloch "a model of what a true scientist should be," saying his personal qualities were as stellar as his professional achievements.
"As much of a giant as he was scientifically, he was always a modest person, very generous with his thoughts and his scientific materials," Bloom wrote.
Bloch lived in Lexington, Mass. He leaves a wife, Lore Teutsch; two children, Peter and Susan; and two grandchildren. The funeral service is private.