William Howard Stein (25 June 1911 – 2 February 1980) was an American biochemist. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1972.

Life and Career

He was born on 25 June 1911, in New York, USA. From 1926 to 1927, he attended the Lincoln School of Teachers College at Columbia University.

He then went to Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. His parents inspired him to study science or medicine.

In 1933, he graduated from Harvard University with a BS in Chemistry. He got his MS in Chemistry from Columbia University in 1935.

Then he got his Ph.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1938, analyzing amino acids in elastin, a very elastic protein.

In 1938, he was inducted as a researcher at the “Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research” under the renowned Jewish-German biochemist Max Bergmann. Here he got to work with some amazing researchers like Moore, Klaus Hofmann, Emil L. Smith, and Joseph S. Fruton. He did most of his important research at Rockefeller.

He became a professor of biochemistry at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in 1952.

From 1955 to 1962, he was a member of the editorial committee for the Journal of Biological Chemistry. In 1962, he joined the editorial board of the journal after serving as chairman of the committee from 1958 to 1961. In 1964, he became an associate editor, and in 1968, he became an editor. Because of illness, he had to leave the job in 1971.

From 1965 to 1982, he was a Professor of Biochemistry at Rockefeller University.

He’s also been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago (1961), Haverford College (1962), Harvard University (1964), and Washington University at St. Louis (1965).

He served as Chairman of the United States National Committee for Biochemistry from 1968-69.

He died on 2 February 1980, in New York, USA.

Major Work

During 1949-63, Stein and Moore worked at the Rockefeller Institute to figure out how ribonuclease digests food. They developed a method to analyze amino acids and peptides from proteins, and then they applied it to ribonuclease.

In 1959, he and Moore published the first sequence analysis of ribonuclease. Additionally, they studied pancreatic ribonuclease, ribonuclease T1, pepsin, chymotrypsin, pancreatic deoxyribonuclease, and streptococcal proteinase.


He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1972 along with Stanford Moore and Christian B. Anfinsen.

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