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Christian Boehmer Anfinsen Edit Profile

Biochemist , educator

Christian Boehmer Anfinsen was an American biochemist.


Christian Anfinsen was born on March 26, 1916 in Monessen, Pennsylvania, United States, in the family of Christian Boehmer and Sophie (Rasmussen) Anfinsen. The family moved to Philadelphia in the 1920s.


He earned a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College in 1937. While attending Swarthmore College he played varsity football. In 1939, he earned a master's degree in organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. Anfinsen received his Doctor of Philosophy in biochemistry in 1943.


In 1950, the National Heart Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, recruited Anfinsen as chief of its Laboratory of Cell physiology. In 1954, a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship enabled Anfinsen to return to the Carlsberg Laboratory for a year and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship allowed him to study at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel from 1958–1959. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1958.

In 1962, Anfinsen returned to Harvard Medical School as a visiting professor and was invited to become chair of the Department of Chemistry. He was subsequently appointed Chief of the Laboratory of Chemical Biology at the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, where he remained until 1981. From 1982 until his death in 1995, Anfinsen was Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at Johns Hopkins.


  • Biochemist Christian Boehmer Anfinsen is best known for establishing that the structure of an enzyme is intimately related to its function.

    He shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Stanford Moore and William Howard Stein for work on ribonuclease, especially concerning the connection between the amino acid sequence and the biologically active conformation.


In 1979, he converted to Judaism, by undergoing an Orthodox conversion.


  • National Academy of Sciences

  • American Society of Biological Chemists

  • Royal Danish Academy


  • Other Interests

    Sailing, music


On November 29, 1941 he married Florence Bernice Kenenger, but they divorced in 1978. In 1979 he married Libby Esther Schulman Ely. He had three children with his first wife: Carol Bernice, Margot Sophie, and Christian Boehmer.

Christian Boehmer Anfinsen - Engineer

Sophie (Rasmussen) Anfinsen

Florence Bernice Kenenger

Libby Shulman Ely

Carol Bernice Anfinsen

Margot Sophie Anfinsen

Christian Boehmer Anfinsen