Alfred Ezra Mirsky

October 17, 1900–June 19, 1974

BY SEYMOUR S. COHEN

ALFRED EZRA MIRSKY, SON OF Michael David Mirsky and Frieda Ittelson Mirsky, graduated from the Ethical Culture School in New York City and from Harvard College, obtaining a B.A. degree in 1922. He studied at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University for two years. On receipt of a fellowship from the National Research Council in 1924, he worked at Cambridge University under Joseph Barcroft during the academic year 1924–1925, and completed his graduate studies under Lawrence J. Henderson at Harvard. He wrote a dissertation titled "The Haemoglobin Molecule" and received a Ph.D. from Cambridge in 1926.

The molecularity of haemoglobin and the molecular weight of the protein were established by Theodor Svedberg and Gilbert Adair in 1925. Their results demonstrated that proteins are rigorously definable species of large molecules, and were important in showing that proteins, despite their size, should be described in the molecular terms of the chemist. The initial postulates of protoplasmic components as being essentially undefinable, dispersible, and colloidal aggregates were eventually replaced by the view that the


Reprinted with permission from Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 18, suppl. II, pp. 633–36. New York: Chas. Scribner's Sons, 1990.



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