James B. Sumner

About James B. Sumner

Who is it?: Chemist
Birth Day: November 19, 1887
Birth Place: Canton, Massachusetts, USA, United States
Education: Roxbury Latin School
Alma mater: Harvard University
Known for: First to isolate an enzyme in crystallized form First to show that an enzyme is a protein
Awards: Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1946)
Fields: Chemistry
Institutions: Cornell University
Doctoral advisor: Otto Folin
Doctoral students: Alexander Dounce

James B. Sumner

James B. Sumner was born on November 19, 1887 in Canton, Massachusetts, USA, United States, is Chemist. James B. Sumner was an American chemist who received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1946 for his isolation of the enzyme called ‘urease’. He established the fact that enzymes had a nature similar to that of proteins which was a controversial topic at that time. He was the first scientist to isolate and crystallize the enzyme which is found in jack beans. His discovery was not taken seriously initially as everybody thought that isolating the enzyme was not possible. He was especially ridiculed by the famous German chemist Richard Willstatter who thought that what Sumner claimed was completely impossible. When another chemist named John H. Northrop was successful in isolating another enzyme called ‘Pepsin’ in 1930 at the ‘Rockfeller Institute, Sumner was given credit for his initial discovery. His research was initially based on analytical methods which did not produce any mentionable results though he worked hard. He then decided to isolate the ‘urease’ enzyme in pure form which had not been attempted previously. When it was proven that he had indeed derived an enzyme from his experiments, it seemed that he had devised a general process for isolating and crystallizing enzymes which had been never done before. He shared his Nobel Prize with Northrop and Wendell M. Stanley for this discovery.
James B. Sumner is a member of Scientists

Does James B. Sumner Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, James B. Sumner has been died on August 12, 1955(1955-08-12) (aged 67)\nBuffalo, New York, USA.

🎂 James B. Sumner - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When James B. Sumner die, James B. Sumner was 67 years old.

Popular As James B. Sumner
Occupation Scientists
Age 67 years old
Zodiac Sign Sagittarius
Born November 19, 1887 (Canton, Massachusetts, USA, United States)
Birthday November 19
Town/City Canton, Massachusetts, USA, United States
Nationality United States

🌙 Zodiac

James B. Sumner’s zodiac sign is Sagittarius. According to astrologers, Sagittarius is curious and energetic, it is one of the biggest travelers among all zodiac signs. Their open mind and philosophical view motivates them to wander around the world in search of the meaning of life. Sagittarius is extrovert, optimistic and enthusiastic, and likes changes. Sagittarius-born are able to transform their thoughts into concrete actions and they will do anything to achieve their goals.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

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Sumner was born on November 19, 1887 in Canton, Massachusetts.


Sumner graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in 1910 where he was acquainted with prominent chemists Roger Adams, Farrington Daniels, Frank C. Whitmore, James Bryant Conant and Charles Loring Jackson. After a short period of working in the cotton knitting factory owned by his uncle, he accepted a teaching position at Mt. Allison College at Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada; In 1912, he went to study biochemistry in Harvard Medical School and obtained his Ph.D. degree in 1914 with Otto Folin. He then worked as Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Cornell Medical School in Ithaca, NY.


Sumner married Cid Ricketts (born Bertha Louise Ricketts in Brookhaven, Mississippi) when she attended medical school at Cornell. They married on July 10, 1915 and had four children. They were divorced in 1930, but she kept her married name. Cid Ricketts Sumner went on to become an author, writing books that included Tammy Tell Me True, which was made into the movie Tammy and the Bachelor, and Quality, which became the movie Pinky. Cid Ricketts Sumner was murdered by their grandson, John R. Cutler, in 1970.


It was in 1917 at Cornell where Sumner began his research into isolating enzymes in pure form; a feat which had never been achieved before. The enzyme he worked with was urease, which he isolated from jack beans. Sumner's work was unsuccessful for many years and many of his colleagues were doubtful, believing that what he was trying to achieve was impossible, but in 1926 he demonstrated that urease could be isolated and crystallized. He accomplished this by mixing purified urease with acetone and then chilling it; the chilled solution produced crystallized urease. He was also able to show by chemical tests that his pure urease was a protein. This was the first experimental proof that an enzyme is a protein, a controversial question at the time.


His successful research brought him to full professorship at Cornell in 1929. From 1924 on his laboratory was located on the second floor of the new dairy science building, Stocking Hall (today home to Food Science), at Cornell where he did his Nobel Prize–winning research. In 1937 he succeeded in isolating and crystallizing a second enzyme, catalase. By this time, John Howard Northrop of the Rockefeller Institute had obtained other crystalline enzymes by similar methods, starting with pepsin in 1929. It had become clear that Sumner had devised a general crystallization method for enzymes, and also that all enzymes are proteins.


In 1931 Sumner married Agnes Lundkvist. In 1943 they divorced; later that year he married Mary Beyer, with whom he had two children.


In 1937, he was given a Guggenheim Fellowship and he spent five months in Sweden working with Professor Theodor Svedberg. Also that year, he was awarded the Scheele Award in Stockholm.


Both Sumner and Northrop, along with Wendell M Stanley, shared the Nobel Prize in 1946 for crystallization of enzymes. In 1947 Sumner became the Director of Cornell's enzyme chemistry laboratory. Sumner was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1948. In 1949, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Sumner died at age 67 of cancer in Buffalo, New York on August 12, 1955.

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