- In this article, I reflect on research on two ATPases. The first is F1F0-ATPase, also known as ATP synthase. It is the terminal enzyme in oxidative phosphorylation and famous as a nanomotor. Early work on mitochondrial enzyme involved purification in large amount, followed by deduction of subunit composition and stoichiometry and determination of molecular sizes of holoenzyme and individual subunits. Later work on Escherichia coli enzyme utilized mutagenesis and optical probes to reveal the molecular mechanism of ATP hydrolysis and detailed facets of catalysis.
- I got my start in biochemistry because of the Vietnam War. As I was finishing my medical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1963, I had two choices going forward: either I could go to Vietnam as a physician, or I could become a research associate in the United States Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The choice was easy. I considered several laboratories at NIH. I could choose freely because research associates came with their own salaries, so they had no effect on the budget of the laboratory in which they worked.
- In reflecting about incidents, accomplishments, and disappointments that occurred during my career, many of them seem almost apocryphal. I acquired an interest in lipids in my third year at Harvard Medical School when I was caring for a young woman with a severe heart problem at the then-Boston City Hospital. World War II was in full swing, and medical students were intimately involved in the care and treatment of patients. She had two young children and a devoted husband, who was truly grateful for any help I could provide.
- I have been exceptionally fortunate to hold, as my only professional jobs, faculty positions at two outstanding research-intensive universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, for almost four decades. This has been an opportunity to work with many of the world's best colleagues and predoctoral and postdoctoral students and to get an unparalleled and continuous education in the exciting scientific currents of this period. While at MIT, I had appointments in both the departments of chemistry and biology as my own personal bridging-biochemistry experience.
- I was born and raised in a small town in southeastern Kansas called Hepler. I attended grammar school and high school in Hepler, and the student body of the high school was approximately 100. The United States entered World War II during my sophomore year, and accelerated programs allowed me to skip my senior year, so I enrolled in college in the summer of 1943. I was 16 years old. I also volunteered for the United States Air Force cadet training program when I was 16. I enrolled in Valparaiso University in Indiana in the fall of 1943; however, my first year at Valpo was not terribly productive.