Chance, Britton

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1913-07-24
Death 2010-11-16
English

Biographical notes:

Britton was born in 1913.

From the description of Britton Chance, American biophyscist and physical biochemist, 1966. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81507963

Britton Chance was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1913. Chance obtained both his B.S. (1935) and M.S. (1936) from the University of Pennsylvania. While his enthusiasm as a boy with yachting with his parents at sea cultivated his interest in applications of electronics, his principal studies at college were in chemistry, a choice that had been influenced by his father's early experience as a chemist. His familiarity with electronic instrumentation, however, enabled him to devise special methods for the study of enzymatic reactions. For his work in the measurement of the reaction kinetics of an enzyme substrate compound named peroxidase, he was granted the Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania in 1940. The same year, he was appointed acting director of the Johnson Foundation, a research institute which was affiliated with the University's Department of Biophysics and Physical Biochemistry (Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics since 1975). He earned a second Ph.D. in biology at Cambridge University in 1942.

During the war time, Chance joined the Radiation Laboratory at MIT in 1941 to work on the development of precision timing and computing circuits for bombing and fire control. In 1946, he was granted a Guggenheim fellowship to study in Stockholm, where he resumed his interest in the field of enzyme kinetics and published many papers. He returned to America in 1948 and resumed his teaching in biophysics. In 1949, he was promoted as Professor of Biophysics and appointed director of the Johnson Foundation, a position he held until 1983. He was appointed E.R. Johnson Professor of Biophysics and Physical Biochemistry in 1964 and University Professor in 1977.

He won the Paul Lewis Award in Enzyme Chemistry in 1950 and became a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences the same year. In later years, while retaining his interest in enzyme structure and function, Chance focused his research on metabolic control phenomena in living tissues as studied by noninvasive techniques such as phosphorus NMR and optical spectroscopy and fluorometry, including the use of infrared light to characterize the properties of various tissues and the breast tumors. Chance received the National Medal of Science in 1974.

He holds membership of numerous academic and professional institutions, among them the American Philosophical Society, American Physical Society, Society of Biological Chemists, American Chemical Society, Institute of Radio Engineers, American Physiological Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Royal Society of Arts (London), Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, etc.

Throughout his life time, sailboat racing has been his principal recreation. Chance won a gold medal as a member of the United States team for the 5.5 Meter Class race in the 1952 Summer Olympics.

From the description of Papers, 1940-1995 (University of Pennsylvania). WorldCat record id: 465223415

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Subjects:

  • Research grants
  • Letters
  • Notebooks
  • Physicists--Biography
  • Biophysics--study and teaching
  • Biochemistry--Study and teaching
  • Physics
  • Biophysics
  • Dissertations, Academic

Occupations:

  • Biophysicists

Places:

  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)