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Paul Delos Boyer

Posted On - May 28, 2015


UCLA biochemist Paul Boyer won the 1997 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his pioneering work in investigating how ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is formed. Energy captured in ATP is used for many biological processes at the cellular level.

Boyer, professor emeritus of biochemistry, has taught and conducted research at UCLA since 1963. He shares half of the 1997 $1 million prize with John Walker of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Cambridge, England, for their work on how the enzyme ATP synthase catalyzes the formation of ATP.

“It’s an experience of a lifetime,” Boyer said of winning the Nobel Prize. “The support of basic research by our society makes this kind of work possible. I feel like one of the most fortunate people to have the opportunity to satisfy my own interest in how things word; I just happen to be lucky.”

Boyer, 79, has devoted five decades of research to the study of enzymes, particularly to the study of oxidative phosphorylation, the process in which the energy we get from the combustion of food is used to make ATP. His insights have helped the world to better understand the complex mechanism by which ATP is synthesized.

Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1970, Boyer has been one of UCLA’s leading scientific innovators. He was the founding director of the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute.

Boyer has been married to his wife, Lyda, since 1939. They have three children and eight grandchildren, one of whom, Imran Clark, is a graduate student at UCLA working toward his Ph.D. in the Molecular Biology Institute. A native of Utah, Boyer received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He was a University of Minnesota faculty member for 17 years before coming to UCLA in 1963.

“I was delighted to hear about Professor Paul Boyer’s Nobel Prize,” said UCLA chancellor Albert Carnesale. “Professor Boyle is a humble, gracious and dedicated researcher and faculty member who has spent decades working on giving the world a greater understanding of energy storage in cells. Everyone at UCLA is extremely proud of Professor Boyer and this honor he so richly deserves.”