Hispanic Heritage Profile: Luis Leloir - Crafton Hills College
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Luis Leloir
Biochemist, Nobel Prize Recipient

Born in Paris, France to Argentinian parents, Luis Leloir spent his childhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He went to school at the Institute of Physiology where he earned a medical degree and developed a passion for biochemistry. Leloir worked as an assistant there from 1934 to 1935 before he traveled to the University of Cambridge and spent a year working in their biochemical labs. He returned to the Institute of Physiology in 1937 where he spent his time researching the oxidation of fatty acids. 

Due to political instability, Leloir moved to the United States to find work. He was appointed as a research associate in the department of Pharmacology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and later took a position at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, New York. He returned to Buenos Aires and secured the funding to establish an Institute for Biochemical Research in 1947.

In 1970, Leloir received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of sugar nucleotides, which help the body utilize different types of sugars, such as lactose, the sugar in milk. Later, Leloir studied the effects of various molecules on glucose transfer in animals. Luis Leloir remained as the head of his biochemical institute until his death in 1987.  Since his death, the institute he founded has been renamed in his honor. Among many other honors, Leloir was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Science, and an honorary member of the Biochemical Society.