Bert vallee—a 20th century adventure(R) in zincology

Claus Jacob*, Ahmad Yaman Abdin, Frederieke Köhler, Wolfgang Maret

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Bert Lester Vallee (1919–2019) has been among the most important biochemists of the 20th century, a pioneer in metalloproteins and discoverer of numerous zinc proteins and enzymes, such as carboxypeptidase, alcohol dehydrogenases and metallothioneins. His scientific achievements are condensed in over 600 publications, and articles relying on and citing his research are suited to fill entire bookshelves. Although Bert Vallee, as a scientist, has left a significant legacy on science, his more personal side and encounters have mostly escaped public observation. We deem this oversight rather unfortunate, as his personality, and indeed personal circumstances, have been truly turbulent and must have influenced his scientific career, from his birth as Bertold Blumenthal in the small village of Hemer in post‐World War I Germany via Switzerland to New York and then Boston. To-gether with public records, the less obvious attributes and actions recommend a more holistic biog-raphy. On the occasion of Bert Vallee’s 100th birthday in 2019, we have attempted to provide such an inclusive and rounded résumé. We also propose that a similar rounded approach will add additional layers to the biographies of contemporary scientists, considering social, economic, political, and historical environments and their mutual interactions, which tend to shape the scientist embed-ded in them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13393
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Angiogenin
  • Biochemistry
  • Biography
  • Metallothionein
  • Sulfur
  • Zinc


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