Sir Hans Adolf Krebs


Honorary Degree (1980)
Doctor of Science
Location: Indianapolis
Presenter: John William Ryan


Sir Hans Krebs earned a place among the world's most renowned contributors to the study of medicine and physiology. Throughout his eminent career he remained in the forefront of medical research, a preeminence sustained by impeccable research and ceaseless collaboration through writing and lecturing with others in his fields of clinical and physiological investigation. Sir Hans was honored worldwide for his contributions to science, an international acclaim most eloquently expressed with the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1953.

Hans Adolf Krebs was born in Hildensheim, Germany, on August 25, 1900. He was educated at the Universities of Gottingen, Freiburg, Munich, Berlin, and Hamburg where he took an M.D. degree before moving as a Rockefeller research student to Cambridge University, England. At Cambridge, he earned an M.A. in Biochemistry. As a lecturer in pharmacology and biochemistry at the University of Sheffield, a teaching and research post, which he held from 1934 to 1945, Dr. Krebs undertook extensive investigations of cell metabolism, research clinically associated with two wards of patients under his care. It was during this time that Dr. Krebs made the major discoveries that deal with the ornithine cycle of urea synthesis in the mammalian liver and with the tricarboxylic acid cycle (now known as the Krebs cycle), which delineates the final common path of degradation of carbohydrates and certain other compounds. It was for this pioneering research that Hans Krebs won the Nobel Prize.

He continued to investigate amino acids and the mechanisms involved in metabolism regulation after he accepted the Whitley Professorship of Biochemistry at Oxford University, a Chair Sir Hans held from 1954 until his retirement in 1967. At this time Sir Hans accepted the Directorship of the Nuffield research department of clinical medicine at the Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, a position he held until his death in 1981. Sir Hans continued to lecture and publish widely throughout his life, contributing about ten original papers every year.

The many honors, which Hans Krebs received in the course of his eminent career, include the most prestigious awards of Europe and America. He won honorary degrees from British, French, Italian, German, and American universities. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1947, winning the Royal Medal in 1954 and the Copley Medal in 1961. Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in 1958. He was a Foreign Associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of the Weizman Institute. In 1953 he won the Lasker Award from the American Public Health Association.

Sir Hans Krebs, in addition to his remarkable investigative and research skills, was also possessed of the special talent necessary for all good teaching, that of communicating ideas and concepts. It was a quality that had been greatly appreciated by the many faculty and students of Indiana University who were able to benefit directly from Sir Hans' formidable knowledge and research experience.

Sir Krebs, since he was first appointed a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Indiana University in 1963, always proved a consistently strong friend and supporter of the University. His association with Indiana University was special since it was the only university at which Sir Hans had accepted an appointment as a regular Visiting Professor. Over his fifteen-year association with Indiana University, Sir Hans made invaluable contributions to the School of Medicine. Worthy of special mention are the annual international symposia on the regulation of enzyme activity and synthesis in normal and neoplastic tissues in which Sir Hans participated. He was also instrumental in helping establish the Indiana University Laboratory for experimental oncology. In recognition of his services to Indiana University, Sir Hans was made a Sagamore of the Wabash in 1966.

Hans Krebs died on November 22, 1981.