Severo Ochoa


Severo Ochoa, a Hispanic scientist, was born on September 24, 1905 in a northern village of Spain. He was the youngest of seven children. His father was a lawyer and businessperson. Sadly, his father died when Severo Ochoa was only seven years old. Ochoa received most of his education in Malaga in Southern Spain. During his high .school years many of his teachers discovered that he had a great dedication to subjects such as human anatomy and physiology. In 1922, Severo Ochoa entered Madrid University to study medicine. His great enthusiasm, industry, and determination are what lead him to be known as the "heroic young research worker." There was one book that Severo Ochoa looked upon for information and it left a lasting influence on him, it was: La Physiologie, Resultats, Methodes, Hypotheses, by the Swiss physiologist M. Arthus.

Not long after his entrance to Madrid University, Ochoa made his first publication in biochemistry (1929) His publication was mainly about muscle creatine. He worked on the sources of energy for muscular contraction. By using muscles with low carbohydrate content he could make the muscle work with a new source of energy. This was a great discovery and interest at the time.

In 1931, Ochoa married Carmen Cobian. Because of his dedication to his work he immediately returned to it after getting married. He devoted most of his time to work on the chemistry and energetics of muscle contraction. By 1932, Ochoa decided to extend his knowledge in enzymology at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. At this institute he discovered the antiglyoxalase effect of pancreatic extracts and their influence on the glycolysis of .muscle extracts.

In 1936 there was a civil war and Ochoa and his wife decided to leave Spain and go to Heidelberg, where Ochoa continued the work he had started in Spain. He then joined the biochemical laboratory of Oxford University in 1938, where he studied the role of vitamin B1 in pyruvate metabolism. At Oxford he discovered the coupling of phosphorylation with oxidation of pyruvic acid in the brain. Severo Ochoa was a very intelligent man and his knowledge and dedication was seen in many discoveries. He helped in the study and or discovery of Pyruvic acid Oxidation, The condensing enzyme, Formation of oxalosuccinate and alpha-Ketoglutarate, The malice enzyme, Fatty acid metabolism and much more.

I was surprised that he was also involved in studies on photosynthesis. He actually discovered that spinach grana have the ability to re-duce NAD and NADP under the influence of light.

When I started to look for a scientist to write a people paper, I wanted to find a Hispanic one. While researching this man I have discovered many other Hispanic scientists and it makes me very proud to have learned that Hispanic scientists have contributed to the discoveries that have made this world a more incredible one. Sadly Severo .0choa died in 1993 due to pneumonia at the age of 88. He won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of an enzyme that can synthesize RNA.




Kornberg, Horecker, Cornudella, Orro (Eds.). Reflection of Biochemistry. Pergamon Press. (1976).

Severo Ochoa (1905-1993). Nature v.366. December 2 1993. pg. 408


Noramay Flores

Raquel Barajas


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