July 5, 1891–May 27, 1987
BY ROGER M. HERRIOTT
JOHN HOWARD NORTHROP, trained in chemistry and introduced to general physiology by Jacques Loeb, proved that the enzymes pepsin and trypsin are proteins. The pattern of investigation that he used in this work was followed by his associates in isolating and examining other enzymes. The success of these studies led to the general acceptance of the view that enzymes are proteins. The importance of this work earned Northrop a share in the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1946.
John H. Northrop was an eighth-generation Yankee, a descendant of Joseph Northrop, who arrived in Milford, Connecticut, in 1630. His forebears included men of influence and accomplishment. Three of them were the Reverend Thomas Hooper 1631; the Reverend Jonathan Edwards, president of Princeton College in 1738; and Frederick C. Havemeyer, founder of the American Sugar Refining Company. The Havemeyer family provided Columbia University with a huge chemistry building in his name.
John's parents were Alice Rich Northrop and John Isaiah Northrop. His father received a Ph.D. from Columbia's School of Mines in 1888 and was appointed "tutor" in the new Zoology Department under Professor Henry Fairfield