British biochemist who investigated metabolic pathways and their regulation,
especially in microorganisms. He studied the way in which the cellular economy
is balanced to prevent overproduction or waste, and introduced the concept
of anaplerotic reactions, whereby metabolic processes are maintained by
special enzymes that replenish materials syphoned off for anabolic purposes.
Kornberg was born in Herford, Westphalia, and went to Britain in 1939 as a refugee from Nazi persecution. He studied at Sheffield under biochemist Hans Krebs, and in the USA at Yale and the University of California. On his return to the UK he joined the Medical Research Council Cell Metabolism Unit headed by Krebs in Oxford. In 1960 he became professor at Leicester, and in 1975 at Cambridge.
Kornberg's research focused on the Krebs cycle, in particular the question of how an organism uses acetate to build up larger molecules while at the same time needing to break it down to provide the energy required for these anabolic functions.
Kornberg studied the regulation of enzyme activity at the genetic and cytoplasmic levels. His later research concentrated on the first step in the processing of food materials, the selective uptake of compounds across cellular membranes.