Who was Luis Federico Leloir, the Argentine scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry | september 6

Federico Leloir was born on September 6, 1906 in Paris, France, although from the age of 2 he lived in Argentina. 26 years old He received his medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and began his professional career at the Hospital de Clínicas.

Later, and on the recommendation of whoever his teacher was, Bernard HoussayLeloir took the position of director of the Biochemical Research Institute-Campomar Foundation (currently Fundación Instituto Leloir), where he began to carry out the first findings that allowed to clarify the mechanism of the biosynthesis of polysaccharides (union of sugars)especially glycogen and starch.

Leloir directed the Campoamor Foundation for forty years and, there, despite the lack of financing and laboratory equipment, began one of the most important chapters not only for his own scientific production, but also for all of Argentine science, which would culminate in obtaining the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1970.

On December 2, 1987, The doctor died at the age of 81 in the City of Buenos Aires.

What did Luis Federico Leloir contribute to science?

Leloir worked years to decipher how sugars are metabolized in the body and the biosynthesis mechanism of glycogen and starch, energy reserve polysaccharides of mammals and plants.

In this process, he discovered the biochemical pathway through which the body harnesses the energy of sugars in order to live. This finding allowed us to understand the causes of many diseases such as galactosemia, a congenital pathology characterized by the body’s inability to metabolize galactose (simple sugar). Its accumulation causes damage to different organs of the body, so if this condition is not detected early, it can be fatal.

When did Luis Federico Leloir receive the Nobel Prize?

In 1970, the Chemistry Jury of the Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to award Luis Federico Leloir with the highest distinction for his research on galactose.

That day, upon learning of the award, the doctor told the press in an impromptu conference at the door of the Campoamor institute: “I gained something very important, but I lost a lot: peace of mind. Today, for example, I couldn’t work.” lament.

When asked by the chroniclers about the theme of the award-winning research, the scientist replied: “Those who are not scientists do not understand what I do in the same way that I do not understand so many other things. It is very difficult to explain. It has to do with metabolism, with the behavior of cells, with complex chemical structures… Look, it is only part of a path towards what is most important: knowing more”, he explained.

Which Argentines won the Nobel Prize and why?

There are five Argentines who have won this distinction. Two belong to the field of medicine, one to chemistry and the remaining two were awarded for their efforts to promote peace.

  • Carlos Saavedra Lamas was the first Argentine to receive the award in 1936. Argentine politician, diplomat and jurist, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in creating the Anti-War Pact that was signed by 21 nations and became an international legal instrument. Saavedra Lamas also mediated to end the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia. He died on May 5, 1959 at the age of 80.
  • Bernardo Alberto Houssay was the second Argentine to receive a Nobel, in 1947. He was recognized for his discoveries with pituitary hormones and the regulation of the amount of sugar in the blood. He was the first Argentine and Latin American awarded in the area of ​​science.
  • Luis Federico Leloir received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1970 and his contribution served to understand in depth the congenital disease galactosemia.
  • He followed biologist César Milstein, who received the award in 1984 for his work on antibodies. Milstein studied immunoglobulins and advanced understanding of the process by which the blood produces antibodies.
  • And the last Argentine to receive the international award was Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his commitment to the defense of Human Rights in Latin America. Argentine activist, teacher, sculptor and painter, Pérez Esquivel has a constant presence in the struggles of the peoples for their liberation, becoming a symbol in Latin America, for his commitment, struggle and actions, for this his voice is respected both in the continent as in other countries.

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Who was Luis Federico Leloir, the Argentine scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry | september 6