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Edmond Henri Fischer

        Science | American Biologists

Fischer, Edmond Henri (1920-) is an American biochemist who made important discoveries about how cell proteins regulate muscle contractions. He and his colleague Edwin Gerhard Krebs shared the 1992 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discoveries. Fischer's and Krebs's findings have led to better understanding the mechanisms of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. They have also helped researchers develop drugs that make it less likely that the body will reject an organ after a transplant.

Fischer was born in Shanghai, China. His father was the publisher of a French-language newspaper in China. When Edmond was 7 years old, his parents sent him to boarding school in Switzerland, and he completed his education in that country. Fischer graduated from the University of Geneva with degrees in biology and chemistry and earned a Ph.D. degree in chemistry there in 1947. For the next several years, he devoted himself to research in organic chemistry, supported by research grants.

In 1953, Fischer went to the United States to do research in biology at the California Institute of Technology. Later that year, he moved to the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington to teach and conduct research. Krebs was already on the faculty, and in 1954, the two scientists began the work that eventually won the Nobel Prize. They studied the biochemistry of muscle contractions, which take place when a muscle enzyme called phosphorylase is activated. Phosphorylase releases stored energy and causes the muscle to contract. Fischer and Krebs found that phosphorylase is switched on by another enzyme, one of a group of proteins known as protein kinases. This switching process is known as protein phosphorylation.

Fischer eventually became a United States citizen.