Van Slyke, Donald D. (Donald Dexter), 1883-1971

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Dr. Van Slyke was director of the chemical laboratory of the Rockefeller Institute Hospital, 1913-1948, and from 1949 to 1971 was associated with the Medical Department of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

From the description of Donald Dexter Van Slyke [sound recording] : an oral history / interviewed by Peter D. Olch, May 27-28, 1969. (National Library of Medicine). WorldCat record id: 49422476

Rufus Ivory Cole served as the the director and physician-in-charge (1909-1937) of the Hospital of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, the first hospital in the United States devoted primarily to the investigation of disease. Cole's medical research centered on problems relating to immunity to diseases of the respiratory system, particularly pneumonia

From the guide to the Rufus Ivory Cole papers, ca. 1900-1966, 1900-1966, (American Philosophical Society)

Epithet: of Long Island America

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000837.0x00026d

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
creatorOf FLEMING PAPERS. Vol. II (ff. 149). Correspondence and papers relating to the Pasteur Jubilee and to an influenza vaccine; 1946-1954.1. ff.1-59. Fiftieth Anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s death Including:André, Gerard -French Embassy, LondonMaucherat, P..., 1946-1954 British Library
creatorOf Van Slyke, Donald Dexter, 1883-1971. Letter, 1931-1938. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Rufus Ivory Cole papers, ca. 1900-1966, 1900-1966 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Cyril Long papers, 1920-1970, 1920-1970 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Van Slyke, Donald D. (Donald Dexter), 1883-1971. Donald Dexter Van Slyke [sound recording] : an oral history / interviewed by Peter D. Olch, May 27-28, 1969. National Library of Medicine
referencedIn Robertson, O. H. (Oswald Hope), 1886-1966. Papers, 1918-1968. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Long, C. N. H. (Cyril Norman Hugh), 1901-1970. Papers, 1920-1970. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Hastings, A. Baird (Albert Baird), 1895-1987. A. Baird Hastings [sound recording] : an oral history / interviewed by Peter D. Olch, Dec., 1967, Feb. and May, 1968. National Library of Medicine
referencedIn Simon Flexner Papers, 1891-1946 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Albert Baird Hastings Papers, 1858-1987 (bulk 1920-1987) History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine
referencedIn O. H. (Oswald Hope) Robertson Papers, 1917-1969 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Clark, W. Mansfield (William Mansfield), 1884-1964. Papers, 1903-1964. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Flexner, Simon, 1863-1946. Papers, 1891-1946. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Max Bergmann papers, [ca. 1930]-1945, 1930-1945 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Hastings, A. Baird (Albert Baird), 1895-1987. Albert Baird Hastings papers, 1858-1987 (bulk 1920-1987). National Library of Medicine
referencedIn Flexner, Simon, 1863-1946. Papers, 1891-1946. American Philosophical Society Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Association of American Physicians. corporateBody
associatedWith Avery, Oswald T., (Oswald Theodore), 1877-1955 person
associatedWith Barker, Lewellys F., (Lewellys Franklin), 1867-1943 person
associatedWith Bass, Lawrence W., (Lawrence Wade), 1898- person
associatedWith Beadle, George Wells, 1903-1989 person
associatedWith Beaux, Cecilia, 1855-1942 person
associatedWith Bergmann, M., (Max), 1886-1944 person
associatedWith Boas, Franz, 1858-1942 person
associatedWith Cattell, Jacques, 1902-1960 person
associatedWith Cattell, James McKeen, 1860-1944 person
associatedWith Chesney, Alan M., (Alan Mason), 1888-1964 person
associatedWith Christian, Henry A., (Henry Arthur), 1931- person
associatedWith Clark, W. Mansfield (William Mansfield), 1884-1964. person
associatedWith Cohn, Alfred E., (Alfred Einstein), 1879-1957 person
associatedWith Cole, Annie Hegler person
associatedWith Cole, Rufus Ivory, 1872-1966 person
associatedWith Corner, George Washington, 1889-1981 person
associatedWith Cushing, Harvey, 1869-1939 person
associatedWith Dakin, H. D., (Henry Drysdale), 1880-1952 person
associatedWith Dubos, René J. (René Jules), 1901- person
associatedWith Ehrlich, Paul, 1854-1915 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Faber, Knud, 1862-1956 person
associatedWith Fischer, Emil, 1852-1919. person
associatedWith Flexner, Abraham, 1866-1959 person
associatedWith Flexner, Simon, 1863-1946. person
associatedWith Fosdick, Harry Emerson, 1878-1969 person
associatedWith Fulton, John F., (John Farquhar), 1899-1960 person
associatedWith Gay, Frederick P., (Frederick Parker), 1874-1939 person
associatedWith Goodpasture, Ernest William, 1886-1960 person
associatedWith Greene, Jerome D. person
associatedWith György, Paul, b. 1893 person
associatedWith Harvey Society of New York. corporateBody
associatedWith Hastings, A. Baird (Albert Baird), 1895-1987. person
associatedWith Herter, Christian Archibald, 1865-1910 person
associatedWith Johns Hopkins University. corporateBody
associatedWith Landsteiner, Karl, 1868-1943 person
associatedWith Langmuir, Irving, 1881-1957 person
associatedWith Loewi, Otto, 1873-1961 person
associatedWith Long, C. N. H. (Cyril Norman Hugh), 1901-1970. person
associatedWith Long, Cyril, 1915- person
associatedWith MacInnes, Duncan Arthur, 1885-1965 person
associatedWith Moe, Henry Allen, 1894-1975 person
associatedWith New York Academy of Medicine. corporateBody
associatedWith Northrop, John Howard, 1891-1987 person
associatedWith Olch, Peter D. (Peter Dean), 1930- person
associatedWith Osterhout, W. J. V., (Winthrop John Van Leuven), 1871-1964 person
associatedWith Redi, Francesco, 1626-1698 person
associatedWith Robbins, William Jacob, 1890-1978 person
associatedWith Robertson, O. H. (Oswald Hope), 1886-1966. person
associatedWith Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. corporateBody
associatedWith Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. Hospital. corporateBody
associatedWith Rockefeller, John D., (John Davison), 1874-1960 person
associatedWith Rous, Peyton, 1879-1970 person
associatedWith Sturgis, Cyrus Cressey, 1891-1966 person
associatedWith Uber, Fred Murray, 1905- person
associatedWith Urey, Harold Clayton, 1893-1981 person
associatedWith Waksman, Selman A., (Selman Abraham), 1888-1973 person
associatedWith Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978 person
associatedWith Welch, William Henry, 1850-1934 person
associatedWith Williams, Linsly R., (Linsly Rudd), 1875-1934 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Great Britain
Political refugees
Jewish scientists
Science--Societies, etc
Hospitals--New York (State)--Administration
Chemistry--United States
Scientists, Refugee
Biochemistry--United States
Scientists--United States
Medicine--Research--United States
Biochemists--United States


Birth 1883-03-29

Death 1971-05-04



Ark ID: w64b2z9w

SNAC ID: 19306572