Severo Ochoa

Severo Ochoa , a renowned molecular biochemist and molecular biologist of Spanish origin, nationalized from the United States, who, together with the American biochemist Arthur Kronoberg , received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1959 for having made the discovery of an enzyme in bacteria that allowed synthesize the ribonucleic acid (RNA), a substance of central importance for the synthesis of proteins by the cell.

Personal information

  • When was he born:  09/24/1905
  • Where he was born:  Luarca, Spain
  • When he died:  11/01/1993
  • Where he died:  Madrid, Spain

Who was Severo Ochoa?

Severo Ochoa was a renowned scientist dedicated to the study of physiology and medicine who managed to discover the mechanisms for the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid or RNA and deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA.

  • Biography of Severo Ochoa
  • What did
  • Discoveries
  • Contributions of Severo Ochoa
  • Physical characteristics
  • Personality
  • Acknowledgments
  • Severo Ochoa’s books
  • Monuments

Biography of Severo Ochoa

Severo Ochoa de Albornoz was born in 1905 in Asturias . His father was Severo Manuel Ochoa , a lawyer, and his mother , Carmen de Albornoz , sister of the president of the Spanish government in exile. He studied in Malaga , where he attended the institute where he studied chemistry with Eduardo García Rodeja, who prompted him to take an interest in Natural Sciences. In 1922 he began his studies at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Madrid influenced at that time by his professor of Medicine Juan Negrín. Upon completing his medical degree in 1928, he worked at thelaboratory of the Nobel Prize Otto Meyerhof and in 1930 he returned to Madrid to carry out his Doctoral Thesis. In 1940 he traveled to the United States where he works in the department of pharmacology at the School of Medicine at the University of Washington where he did a series of important experiments of enzymes .

In 1951 he received important awards for his studies on enzymes and he dedicated himself to studying the metabolism of carbohydrates and fatty acids, discovering with them a new enzyme that explained how the pyruvic acid oxidation mechanism worked in the cycle of Krebs . In 1971 he was appointed as director of the Molecular Biology laboratory in Madrid, so he moved to live in this place. He directed research on protein biosynthesis and retired in 1975 , continuing to do research.

What did

Severo Ochoa was a scientist who made different and important contributions in the area of biochemistry and molecular biology . He carried out different works focused on the area of metabolic enzymology , studied photosynthesis and the metabolism of fatty acids, research on the synthesis of ribonucleic acid and contributed works that later developed different ideas related to the deciphering of the genetic code .


Among the main discoveries of Severo Ochoa we can mention:

  • He discovered the polynucleotide phosphorylase and carried out studies on the synthesis of ribonucleic acid , discovering its synthesis in 1955 for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1959.
  • He managed to discover and isolate an enzyme from bacteria checking so that adding the bacteria to solutions nucleotides of ribose could be observed an increase in viscosity , revealing that the enzyme was able to bind the ribonucleotides and form chains Long RNA .
  • He discovered polynucleotide phosphorylase , which is considered one of the most important discoveries in twentieth-century biology.
  • He carried out studies on the fixation of CO2 by plants, avatars of phosphate in fermentations , use of glucose in the glycolysis process , the role of vitamin B1 , oxidation of pyruvic acid and closure of the Krebs cycle by means of the «condensing enzyme »Which was called de Ochoa.

Contributions of Severo Ochoa

Severo Ochoa made important contributions in the area of science such as the decipherment of the genetic code , contributions that helped to design the mechanism of protein biosynthesis in bacteria and higher cells as well as its regulatory mechanisms . His research and studies have served as the basis for the correct decipherment of the genetic code .

Physical characteristics

Although there is no exact description of the physical characteristics of Severo Ochoa, it is known that he was a man with a very humble appearance and customs who wore his shorts showing his ankles. He was dressed according to New York culture , gray hair , a turned up nose , and white skin .


Despite being an excellent scientist, intelligent and determined , he also suffered from melancholic prostration . According to experts, this situation arose from the disappearance of his wife Carmen. He was a silent man , full of bitterness and not very smiling . Despite having fled to the United States in search of peace, he always suffered from the absence of Spain and from not being able to work properly in the country.


Severo Ochoa had many and important recognitions, among them we mention the following:

  • Issuance of commemorative stamps for his death by Postal Service Spain to the as did the Postal Service of the United States .
  • Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1959, shared with his disciple Arthur Kornberg.
  • They have appointed different streets with his name in several municipalities of Leganes, Mostoles, Getafe, Parla, Madrid Rivas Empty.
  • The College in Getafe bears his name as does the hospital in Leganés.
  • statue was made for him in the gardens of the UCM School of Medicine .
  • The Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Center (CBMSO) was founded .
  • The Spanish Institute “Severo Ochoa” in Tangier was created.
  • Medal of the Société de Chimie Biologique of the year 1959.
  • Medal of the University of New York of the year 1959.
  • Jiménez Díaz Memorial Lesson Award in 1969.
  • National Medal of Science of the USA from the year 1979.
  • President of the International Union of Biochemistry (International Union of Biochemistry).

Severo Ochoa’s books

Some of his most important written works are:

  • micro method for estimating total muscle creatinine in the.
  • Applied Pharmacology .
  • The chemical and energetic phenomena of muscle contraction in experimental adrenal insufficiency (doctoral thesis).
  • Biosynthesis of di-carboxyl acid by filtration of carbon dioxide.
  • Enzymatic synthesis of citrate from pyruvate and oxalate.
  • Synthesis and breakdown of citric acid with the condensed crystalline enzyme.
  • Enzymatic incorporation of carbon dioxide in the liver of a pigeon
  • Propionic acid metabolism in animal tissues.
  • The genetic code , the chemical basis of inheritance.


Some of the monuments that have been created in his honor are:

  • Monument to Severo Ochoa by Francisco González Macías in 1974, located on Avenida de Severo Ochoa, Gijón, Austrias .
  • Monuments in Luarca as a celebration of his birth.
  • Statue of Severo Ochoa outside the Complutense School of Medicine at the University of Madrid .
  • There was also a mural called ” The absence-the presence ” as a tribute to the scientist which is considered as the historical heritage of Asturias.

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