Thursday, July 21, 2011

USA 2011 American Scientist: Dr Severo Ochoa

The US Postal Service released a third series of American Scientists stamps on 16 June 2011. The set comprises 4 stamps, and one of them features Dr Severo Ochoa. Ochoa was awarded the 1959 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work the synthesis of RNA.
Severo Ochoa was born on 24 September 1905 in Spain. Ochoa attended elementary school and high school in Malaga, then in 1923 he went the University of Madrid Medical School. He completed his undergraduate medical degree in summer of 1928 and developed an interest in going abroad to gain further research experience. His previous creatine and creatinine work led to an invitation to join Otto Meyerhof’s laboratory at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology in Berlin-Dahlem in 1929. At that time the Institute was a "hot bed" of the rapidly evolving discipline of biochemistry, thus Ochoa had the experience of meeting and interacting with scientists such as Otto Warburg, Carl Neuberg, Einar Lundsgaard, and Fritz Lipmann in addition to Meyerhof who had received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine less than a decade earlier. In 1930 Ochoa returned to Madrid to complete research for his MD thesis, which he defended that year. In 1931, a newly minted MD, married Carmen García Cobián and began postdoctoral study at the London National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), where he worked with Sir Henry Dale. With the outbreak of the Spanish civil war, Ochoa left Spain in 1936, taking up poistion in various parts of Europe. In 1942, Ochoa went to USA and started working for the New York University School of Medicine. He became an America citizen in 1956.
After receiving the Nobel Prize in 1959, Ochoa continued research on protein synthesis and replication of RNA viruses until 1985, when he returned to Spain and gave advice to Spanish science policy authorities and scientists. Ochoa was also a recipient of U.S. National Medal of Science in 1979. Severo Ochoa died in Madrid, Spain on 1st November 1993.
The 2011 American scientist stamp of Severo Ochoa is illustrated with photographs of Ochoa in his laboratory in 1959; Ochoa’s signature, from a 1949 letter to colleague Arthur Kornberg; a scheme, from one of his publications, representing the replication of viral RNA; and an equation representing the bacterial ribosome cycle in polypeptide synthesis. Severo Ochoa is also featured in the 2003 (20 March) Spain-Sweden joint stamp issue for recipients of Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

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