December 16, 1992

Hans Krebs: The Formation of a Scientific Life 1900-1933, vol 1

Author Affiliations

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Miami, Fla


by Frederic Lawrence Holmes (Monographs on the History and Philosophy of Biology), 491 pp, with illus, $49.95, ISBN 0-19-507072-0, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 1991.

JAMA. 1992;268(23):3379-3380. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490230109044

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Sir Hans Krebs (1900-1981) was a distinguished biochemist who received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1953 for his discovery of the tricarboxylic acid cycle—the "Krebs cycle." The first of a multivolume biography by Frederick L. Holmes, the Avalon Professor of History of Medicine at Yale, describes Krebs' life from birth to 1933.

Holmes describes in detail Krebs' background and upbringing, his relationship with his family, and his education as a physician and in biochemistry. His father was also a physician. Although father and son formally renounced their religious affiliation with Judaism, it was nevertheless to have repercussions. Early in the Hitler era Krebs was dismissed from his post at Freiburg University and went to Cambridge.

The bulk of the book is a detailed summary and interpretation of the scientific contributions leading to the discovery of the biosynthesis of urea. Toward the close of the book, the concept