Tracing Cholesterol's Origins

Today is the 85th birthday of Konrad Bloch, the German-born American chemist who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in medicine for figuring out the biochemistry and metabolism of cholesterol. Bloch, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and his Harvard colleagues discovered that cholesterol's major precursor is acetic acid, a two-carbon molecule. This finding paved the way for tracing all 36 steps that take place, primarily in the liver, to build 27-carbon cholesterol molecules. The work, along with that of Nobel Prize co-recipient Feodor Lynen of the Max Planck Institute in Munich, has had major implications for understanding cholesterol's role in cardiovascular disease.

[Source: Roy Porter, Ed., The Biographical Dictionary of Scientists (Oxford University Press, ed. 2, 1994).]