Structural Biochemistry/Linus Pauling


Linus Pauling, an American biochemist, was one of the most prominent chemists in history. He is the only person to be awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes. He was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in chemistry "for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances." In 1962 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for his campaign against nuclear weapons testing."

Personal LifeEdit

Linus Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon on February 28, 1901. At the age of 16, he was admitted to Oregon State University, then called Oregon Agricultural College. During the last two years at school, he began working on the electronic structure of atoms and how they are bonded together. He focused his studies on physical and chemical properties of the atoms that substances were composed of, thus, he became one of the foudners of quantum chemistry. In 1922, he graduated with a degree in chemical engineering and attended Caltech for graduate school. There, he researched using X-ray diffraction to solve the structure of compounds.

Structural BiochemistryEdit

One of the many discoveries of chemistry that Linus Pauling contributed to is proposing an accurate structure of the secondary structure of proteins. In 1951, Pauling, along with Robert Corey and Herman Branson, proposed the alpha helix and beta sheet structures of proteins. They were able to do this from looking at the structures of amino acids and peptides and the peptide bond's planar nature. Pauling was also able to assume that the amount of amino acids per helix could be a non-integer number, which it is (3.7 amino acid residues per turn). Linus Pauling also studied enzymes and was one of the first to postulate that the transition state needs to be stabilized in order for the enzymes to complete a reaction. This helped root the understanding of enzyme mechanisms. He was also one of the first to figure out that the ability of antigens and antibodies to bind was due to complementary structures between the two.


"Linus Carl Pauling: A Biographical Timeline." Oregon State University. Web. 06 Dec. 2012. <>
"Configurations of Polypeptide Chains With Favored Orientations Around Single Bonds." PMC. Web. 06 Dec. 2012. <>
"Linus Pauling." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Web. 06 Dec. 2012. <>