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Sir Hans Adolf Krebs (25 August 1900 – 22 November 1981) was a German born British physician and biochemist. Krebs is best known for his identification of two important metabolic cycles: the urea cycle and the citric acid cycle. The latter, the key sequence of metabolic chemical reactions that produces energy in cells, is also known as the Krebs cycle and earned him a Nobel Prize in 1953.


Early years

Krebs was born in Hildesheimmarker, Germanymarker, to Georg Krebs, an ear, nose, and throat surgeon, and Alma Davidson . He went to school in Hildesheim and studied medicine at the University of Göttingenmarker and at the University of Freiburg from 1918–1923. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Hamburgmarker in 1925, then studied chemistry in Berlinmarker for one year, where he later became an assistant of Otto Warburg at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology until 1930.


Krebs joined the German army in 1932, and was appointed to the 13th mechanized infantry division regardless of his Jewish faith. Krebs returned to clinical medicine at the municipal hospital of Altonamarker and then at the medical clinic of the University of Freiburg, where he conducted research and discovered the urea cycle. Because he was Jewish, he was barred from practicing medicine in Germany and he emigrated to England in 1933. He was invited to Cambridgemarker, where he worked in the biochemistry department under Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins (1861–1947). Krebs became professor of biochemistry at the University of Sheffield in 1945.Krebs' area of interest was intermediary metabolism. He identified the urea cycle in 1932, and the citric acid cycle in 1937 at the University of Sheffield. He moved to Oxford as Professor of Biochemistry in 1954 and after his retirement continued work at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford until his death. He was a fellow of Trinity College.

In 1953 he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology for his "discovery of the citric acid cycle." He was knighted in 1958.

He was elected Honorary Fellow of Girton Collegemarker, Cambridge Universitymarker in 1979.

Personal life

Krebs was married in 1938 to Margaret Cicely Fieldhouse with whom he had three children: sons, John (later Baron Krebs, an ornithologist and member of the House of Lordsmarker) and Paul, and daughter, Helen. Krebs died in Oxfordmarker, Englandmarker in 1981.

See also


  • Sri Kantha, S: The question of nepotism in the award of Nobel prizes; a critique of the view of Hans Krebs. Medical Hypotheses, 1991; 34: 28-32.

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