Fritz Albert Lipmann

Lipmann, Fritz Albert (1899-1986), an American biochemist, shared the 1953 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Lipmann won for his isolation of coenzyme A, a vital substance that helps the body produce energy from food.

Lipmann was born on June 12, 1899, in Königsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad, Russia). He was the son of Leopold Lipmann and Gertrud Lachmanski Lipmann.


Lipmann studied at the Universities of Königsberg, Berlin, and Munich from 1917 to 1922. His studies were interrupted for medical service during World War I (1914–1918). He received his M.D. degree in 1924 from Berlin, and followed it with a three-month course in biochemistry. Lipmann returned to Königsberg and Berlin to study chemistry and received a Ph.D. degree in 1927.

Lipmann worked at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University) in New York City from 1931 to 1932, and then for seven years in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he did important research on metabolism of cells.

After working for Cornell Medical School in New York and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, in 1949 Lipmann became professor of biological chemistry at Harvard University. In 1957, he was appointed a professor of the Rockefeller University, which specializes in advanced research in biology and medicine.

In the late 1940's, Lipmann determined the first step in the Krebs cycle, a series of chemical reactions that occurs in the body during the breakdown of glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids to obtain energy and produce heat. Lipmann found that a previously unidentified organic compound is required, coenzyme A. He isolated and described the molecular structure of coenzyme A. For this work, Lipmann shared the 1953 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with German biochemist Sir Hans Adolf Krebs. Krebs received the award for his 1937 discovery of the Krebs cycle in metabolism.