Johann Deisenhofer
Johann Deisenhofer is a German biochemist
Biochemists are scientists who are trained in biochemistry. Typical biochemists study chemical processes and chemical transformations in living organisms. The prefix of "bio" in "biochemist" can be understood as a fusion of "biological chemist."-Role:...

 who, along with Hartmut Michel
Hartmut Michel
Hartmut Michel is a German biochemist and Nobel Laureate.He was born 18 July 1948 in Ludwigsburg. After compulsory military service, he studied biochemistry at the University of Tübingen, working for his final year at Dieter Oesterhelt’s laboratory on ATPase activity of halobacteria.In 1986, he...

 and Robert Huber
Robert Huber
Robert Huber is a German biochemist and Nobel laureate.He was born 20 February 1937 in Munich where his father, Sebastian, was a bank cashier. He was educated at the Humanistisches Karls-Gymnasium from 1947 to 1956 and then studied chemistry at the Technische Hochschule, receiving his diploma in 1960...

, received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1988 for their determination of the structure of a membrane-bound complex of proteins and co-factors that is essential to photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can...


Deisenhofer earned his doctorate from the Technical University of Munich
Technical University of Munich
The Technische Universität München is a research university with campuses in Munich, Garching, and Weihenstephan...

 for research work done at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
The Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry is a research institute of the Max Planck Society located in Martinsried, a suburb of Munich. The Institute was "founded in 1973 by the merger of three formerly independent institutes: the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, the Max Planck Institute of...

 in Martinsried
Martinsried is a section of Planegg, a municipality neighboring Munich, Germany. Martinsried lies about 15 km southwest of Munich's city center.Martinsried is mostly known as the location of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and the...

, West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

, in 1974. He conducted research there until 1988, when he joined the scientific staff of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a United States non-profit medical research organization based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. It was founded by the American businessman Howard Hughes in 1953. It is one of the largest private funding organizations for biological and medical research in the United...

 and the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is one of the biomedical research institutions of the University of Texas System, incorporating three degree-granting institutions, four affiliated hospitals, including Parkland Memorial, the teaching hospital, and biomedical research...


Together with Michel and Huber, Deisenhofer determined the three-dimensional structure of a protein complex found in certain photosynthetic bacteria. This membrane protein complex, called a photosynthetic reaction center, was known to play a crucial role in initiating a simple type of photosynthesis. Between 1982 and 1985, the three scientists used X-ray crystallography
X-ray crystallography
X-ray crystallography is a method of determining the arrangement of atoms within a crystal, in which a beam of X-rays strikes a crystal and causes the beam of light to spread into many specific directions. From the angles and intensities of these diffracted beams, a crystallographer can produce a...

 to determine the exact arrangement of the more than 10,000 atoms that make up the protein complex. Their research increased the general understanding of the mechanisms of photosynthesis and revealed similarities between the photosynthetic processes of plants and bacteria.

Deisenhofer currently serves on the board of advisors of Scientists and Engineers for America
Scientists and Engineers for America
-Mission statement:The organization's mission statement states:-SHARP Network:The Science, Health and Related Policies Network is a wiki to track congressional representatives, senators, and candidates as well as presidential candidates....

, an organization focused on promoting sound science in American government.

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