Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978

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Foundation executive, mathematician.

From the description of Reminiscences of Warren Weaver : oral history, 1961. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309735455

Max Bergmann (February 12, 1886-November 7, 1944) was a biochemist, whose research proved key for the study of biochemical processes. His work on peptide synthesis and protein splitting provided a starting point for modern protein chemistry and the study of enzyme-substrate interactions. He is most noted for developing the carbobenzoxy protecting group, for the synthesis of oligopeptides, using any amino acid in any sequence. He co-authored with his colleague Joseph S. Fruton (1912-2007, APS 1967) several reviews in protein and enzyme chemistry, notably “Proteolytic Enzymes,” in the Annual Review of Biochemistry 10 (1941): 31-46 and “The Specificity of Proteinases,” in Advances in Enzymology 1 (1941): 63-98.

Bergmann was born in Fürth, Germany, the son of a coal merchant named Solomon Bergmann and his wife Rosalie Stettauer. He entered the University of Munich, initially interested in botany, but shifted to chemistry, after being convinced that biological questions could only be answered by the methods of organic chemistry. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1907, and afterward became a student of Emil Fischer (1838-1914, APS 1909), the foremost protein and carbohydrate chemist of the day at the University of Berlin. In 1911 Bergmann received a Ph.D. with a dissertation on acyl polysulfides and became Fischer’s research assistant. In 1912 Bergmann married Emmy Miriam Grunwald with whom he had two children. The marriage ended in divorce, and he remarried Martha Suter in 1926. During World War I Bergmann was exempted from military service because of his research work with Fischer. While working with Fischer, Bergmann made important contributions to carbohydrate, lipid, tannin and amino acid chemistry, developing new methods for the preparation of α-monoglycerides. In 1920 Bergmann was appointed Privatdozent at the University of Berlin and head of the chemistry department at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Textile Research.

Bergmann left the University of Berlin in 1921 to become the director of the new Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Leather Research and Professor of chemistry at the Dresden Technical University. At Dresden, Bergmann created one of the world’s leading laboratories for the study of protein chemistry. After Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, Bergmann, a Jew, emigrated to the United States. From 1934 until his death Bergmann was affiliated with the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York.

Bergmann represents the tradition of German organic chemistry applied to biological problems. Working with his mentor Fischer, who sought effective methods to separate and identify amino acids, and who identified the peptide bond as the structure that connects amino acids, Bergmann made many basic contributions to protein and amino acid chemistry. In Dresden he extended Fischer’s work of separating and identifying the amino acid constituents of proteins. In order to establish the conjecture of some protein chemists that proteins were, in fact, polypeptides, containing thousands of amino acids, Bergmann developed new methods of peptide synthesis. The most important discovery came in 1932, when he and his colleague Leonidas Zervas created the carbobenzoxy method allowing them to use any amino acid in any sequence to produce peptides and polypeptides that closely resembled naturally occurring proteins.

Bergmann continued this work in New York at the Rockefeller Institute, stressing two new lines of research: (1) expanding the carbobenzoxy method to form peptides that could serve as substrates for protein-splitting enzymes, and (2) unraveling the total structure of proteins. After becoming head of the chemistry laboratory at the Rockefeller Institute in 1937, Bergmann recruited several talented biochemists. Along with his colleague Joseph Fruton, he discovered the first synthetic peptide substrates for which several enzymes were catalysts. When they demonstrated that the enzyme pepsin was able to catalyze the hydrolysis of synthetic peptides, they implicated the peptide bond in protein structure, but also provided the first clear evidence that specific enzymes split peptides at exact linkages in the chain. Their discovery cleared the path for study of how enzymes act as catalysts for every biological function.

Bergmann’s methods of analysis and synthesis proved incapable of solving the riddle of protein structure. He applied methods for separation and quantitative analysis to every amino acid in a protein in an attempt to establish their sequence in the polypeptide chain. In 1938 he proposed a theory of the systematic recurrence in the location of every amino acid residue in the peptide chain of a protein. However, his hypothesis proved an oversimplification. Two biochemists in his working group, Standford Moore and William Stein, showed him that the analytical data did not support his “periodic theory,” and Bergmann was forced to abandon it. Moore and Stein later collaborated in developing novel methods for quantitative analysis of amino acids in protein hydrolysates, methods they perfected after World War II. By 1949 it was possible to determine the order of the links of each amino acid in a protein. The Englishman Frederick Sanger was the first to establish the complete amino acid sequence in a protein, the hormone insulin. Moore and Stein followed by identifying the sequence of a more complex protein, the enzyme ribonuclease.

Bergman died of cancer in New York City on November 7, 1944. His mastery of peptide synthesis and protein splitting constituted the beginnings of modern protein chemistry. Bringing to the United States a background in German organic chemistry, he laid the foundations for the work of others, who would fulfill Bergmann’s goal of understanding and mapping the molecular structure of proteins and enzymes. His research colleagues found him a supportive leader and collaborator. He coauthored a number of publications with other members of his research group.

From the guide to the Max Bergmann papers, [ca. 1930]-1945, 1930-1945, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn John W. Tukey Papers, 1937-2000 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Claude Elwood Shannon Papers, 1932-1995, (bulk 1938-1989) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978. The mathematical manuscripts of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) in the Morris L. Parrish Collection, Princeton University Library : typescript, [195-?]. Princeton University Library
referencedIn Paul Bigelow Sears papers, 1910-1969 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978. Notebooks and papers from student and teaching years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison / Warren Weaver. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Office of the President, records of Karl Taylor Compton and James Rhyne Killian, 1930-1959 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Winch, Ralph P. (Ralph Philip), 1905-. Student notebooks, 1927-1931. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Von Neumann, John, 1903-1957. John Von Neumann papers, 1912-1996 (bulk 1935-1957). Library of Congress
creatorOf United States. Office of Scientific Research and Development. Activity reports of Division 2 and Division 7 of the National Defense Research Committee. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Parapsychology Laboratory. Records, 1893-1984 and n.d. (bulk 1930-1965). Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIj, 1898-1988 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Eisley, Loren Corey, 1907-1977. Papers, 1913-1977. University of Pennsylvania, Archives & Records Center
referencedIn Alexander Hollaender Papers, 1955-1974 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978. Correspondence, 1925-1931 / Warren Weaver. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Norbert Wiener papers, 1898-1966 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Michael S. Mahoney papers., 1923-2008 University of Minnesota Libraries. Charles Babbage Institute. [cbi]
creatorOf Max Bergmann papers, [ca. 1930]-1945, 1930-1945 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Derleth, August William, 1909-1971. August William Derleth papers, 1858, 1907-1978. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Bugher, John C., 1901-1970. Papers, 1950-1966. Rockefeller Archive Center, Rockefeller University, Pocantico Hills
referencedIn Edward U. Condon Papers, Circa 1920-1974 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Bush, Vannevar, 1890-1974. Vannevar Bush papers, 1901-1974 (bulk 1932-1955). Library of Congress
creatorOf Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978. Oral history of Dr. Warren Weaver. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
creatorOf Sokolnikoff, Ivan Stephen, 1901-. Letter and notes to Warren Weaver, February 26, 1934, c/o Rockefeller Foundation, New York City. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Richard Courant Papers, 1902-1972 New York University. Archives.
referencedIn Rockefeller Foundation. Rockefeller Foundation Archives,1910-(1912-1989). Rockefeller Archive Center, Rockefeller University, Pocantico Hills
creatorOf Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978. Reminiscences of Warren Weaver : oral history, 1961. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Office of the Vice President, records of Vannevar Bush, 1932-1938 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections
creatorOf Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978. Manuscript materials including lecture notebooks, oral history transcript, lecture notes, letters, war diaries of activities of the National Defense Research Council, Summary technical report of the Applied Mathematical Panel, and offprints. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Parapsychology Laboratory. Records, 1893-1984 (bulk 1930-1965). Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978. Papers, 1940-1960. Rockefeller Archive Center, Rockefeller University, Pocantico Hills
referencedIn John Von Neumann Papers, 1912-1996, (bulk 1935-1957) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Vannevar Bush Papers, 1901-1974, (bulk 1932-1955) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Office of the Messrs Rockefeller. General files. 1890-1961. Rockefeller Archive Center, Rockefeller University, Pocantico Hills
referencedIn George Sarton additional papers, 1901-1956. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection, 1668-1983, Bulk, 1750-1850, 1668-1983 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Shannon, Claude Elwood, 1916-2001. Claude Elwood Shannon papers, 1932-1995 (bulk 1938-1989). Library of Congress
creatorOf Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978. Correspondence : to Van Wyck Brooks, 1959. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Dartmouth Convocation on the Great Issues of Conscience in Modern Medicine (1960 : Dartmouth College). Records, 1960. New Hampshire Newsp Project
referencedIn Sears, Paul B. (Paul Bigelow), 1891-1990. Paul Bigelow Sears papers, 1910-1969 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Marshall, John, 1903-1980. Papers, 1940-1962. Rockefeller Archive Center, Rockefeller University, Pocantico Hills
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associatedWith Beadle, George Wells, 1903-1989 person
associatedWith Bergmann, M., (Max), 1886-1944 person
associatedWith Boas, Franz, 1858-1942 person
associatedWith Bugher, John C., 1901-1970. person
correspondedWith Bush, Vannevar, 1890-1974. person
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associatedWith Dubos, René J. (René Jules), 1901- person
associatedWith Eddington, Arthur Stanley, Sir, 1882-1944. person
associatedWith Edison, Thomas A., (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Eisley, Loren Corey, 1907-1977. person
associatedWith Everett, Edward, 1794-1865 person
associatedWith Fitch, John person
associatedWith Flexner, Simon, 1863-1946 person
associatedWith Genth, F. A., (Frederick Augustus), 1820-1893 person
associatedWith Gray, Asa, 1810-1888 person
associatedWith Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872 person
associatedWith György, Paul, b. 1893 person
associatedWith Harding, Warren G. person
associatedWith Hollaender, Alexander, 1898-1986 person
associatedWith Land, Barbara, person
associatedWith Landsteiner, Karl, 1868-1943 person
associatedWith Langmuir, Irving, 1881-1957 person
associatedWith Loewi, Otto, 1873-1961 person
associatedWith MacInnes, Duncan Arthur, 1885-1965 person
associatedWith Mahoney, Michael S. (Michael Sean) person
associatedWith Marshall, John, 1903-1980. person
associatedWith Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Office of the President corporateBody
associatedWith Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Office of the Vice President corporateBody
associatedWith Murnaghan, Francis D. (Francis Dominic), 1893- person
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associatedWith New York Times Oral History Program. corporateBody
associatedWith Northrop, John Howard, 1891-1987 person
associatedWith Office of the Messrs Rockefeller. corporateBody
associatedWith Osterhout, W. J. V., (Winthrop John Van Leuven), 1871-1964 person
associatedWith Parapsychology Laboratory. corporateBody
associatedWith Parapsychology Laboratory. corporateBody
associatedWith Parrish, Morris Longstreth, 1867-1944. person
associatedWith Poinsett, Joel Roberts, 1779-1851 person
associatedWith Rittenhouse, David, 1732-1796 person
associatedWith Robbins, William Jacob, 1890-1978 person
associatedWith Rockefeller Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. corporateBody
associatedWith Rous, Peyton, 1879-1970 person
associatedWith Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813 person
correspondedWith Sarton, George, 1884-1956 person
associatedWith Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, 1793-1864 person
associatedWith Sears, Paul B. (Paul Bigelow), 1891-1990. person
associatedWith Seybert, Adam, 1773-1825 person
correspondedWith Shannon, Claude Elwood, 1916-2001. person
associatedWith Sokolnikoff, Ivan Stephen, 1901- person
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Stevens, Henry person
associatedWith Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872 person
associatedWith Thomson, Charles, 1729-1824 person
associatedWith Tukey, John Wilder, 1915- person
associatedWith Uber, Fred Murray, 1905- person
associatedWith United States. National Defense Research Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Office of Scientific Research and Development. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Wisconsin--Madison. College of Engineering. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Wisconsin--Madison. Dept. of Mathematics. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Wisconsin--Madison. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Wisconsin--Madison. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Wisconsin--Madison. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections. corporateBody
associatedWith Urey, Harold Clayton, 1893-1981 person
associatedWith Van Slyke, Donald Dexter, 1883-1971 person
correspondedWith Von Neumann, John, 1903-1957. person
associatedWith Waksman, Selman A., (Selman Abraham), 1888-1973 person
associatedWith Waterton, Charles, 1782-1865 person
associatedWith Wayne, Anthony person
associatedWith Wiener, Norbert, 1894-1964 person
associatedWith Winch, Ralph P. (Ralph Philip), 1905- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
New Jersey--Princeton
United States
United States
Subject
Scientists, Refugee
Relativity (Physics)--Mathematics
Executives--Interviews
Probabilities
Mathematicians--Interviews
Charitable uses, trusts, and foundations
Agriculture--International cooperation
Political refugees
Scalar field theory
Biochemistry--United States
Chemistry--United States
Scientists
Mathematics--Manuscripts--Catalogs
Mathematics--Research
Book collecting
Vector analysis
World War, 1939-1945--Science
Earth resistance
Potential theory (Mathematics)
Calculus of tensors
Dynamics--Mathematical models
Scientists--Interviews
Science--Societies, etc
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Jewish scientists
Scientists--United States
Endowment of research
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Biochemists--United States
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Birth 1894-07-17

Death 1978-11-24

Americans

English

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