Emil Fischer is known in the world of chemistry for discovering the peptide bond. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on the structure and properties of purines and sugars.
The Early Years
Fischer was born in 1852 in Euskirchen, near Cologne, Germany. Laurenz Fischer, his father, was a successful businessman running a lumber business. He wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. However, he felt that his son didn’t have it in him to become a businessman.
He decided not to force him into the family business and in 1871 decided to send him to the University of Bonn to study chemistry. The following year Fischer switched his university, opting for the University of Strasbourg. Here he studied under Alfred von Baeyer. Two years later he earned his doctorate for his studies in the field of Phenolphthalein.
In 1875 Fischer went to the University of Munich as an assistant of Baeyer in Organic Chemistry. In the same year he discovered the compound Phenyl-hydrazine. And along with his cousin he also discovered the structure of Rosaniline dyes. In 1888 he went on to become the professor of Chemistry at the University of Würzburg. This was followed by him becoming the Chair of Chemistry at the University of Berlin in 1892.
Research and findings
Fischer conducted extensive research in sugars between 1884 and 1894. He built compounds that duplicated the molecular structure of these natural sugars. Fischer also established the relationship between glucose, fructose and mannose.
It was Fischer who explained that enzymes, and the substances that they act on called substrates, have a lock and key relationship. He found out that enzymes react with substrates and result in a biochemical reaction. Fischer conducted research in the relationship between sugars, ferments and the enzymes that breaks it down. He discovered the isomers of sugar and established their stereochemical nature. This would go on to be the building blocks for future research in the field of proteins.