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James B. Sumner
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Scientist
    (November 19, 1887-August 12, 1955)
    Born in Canton, Massachusetts
    Biochemist
    Isolated and crystallized the enzyme urease (1926)
    Demonstrated that urease was a protein
    Was first scientist to isolate an enzyme and first to provide experiment evidence that enzymes were proteins
    Co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1946)
    Descendant of Senator Charles Sumner
    He originally majored in electrical engineering, but after a few weeks decided he could not handle the math.
    He was married three times, divorced twice.
    His first wife had been his student.
    It was widely thought that enzymes could not be crystallized, so it took years for his results to be widely accepted.
    When he was 17, he was shot in a hunting accident and his left arm had to be amputated below the elbow.
    He had been left-handed before the accident.
    Despite missing an arm, he excelled at tennis (including winning the championship at Cornell University's Faculty Tennis Club), billiards and clay pigeon shooting.
    He was fluent in French, German and Swedish, and taught his springer spaniel to respond to commands in both Swedish and English.
    His first wife, author Cid Ricketts Sumner, was later murdered by their grandson (1970).
    He said, 'A number of persons advised me that my attempt to isolate an enzyme was foolish, but this advice made me feel all the more certain that, if successful, the quest would be worthwhile.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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