Severo Ochoa. 24 September 1905—1 November 1993

Marianne Grunberg-Manago

Elected For.Mem.R.S. 1965


I first met Severo Ochoa in 1952 in Paris, at the second International Congress of Biochemistry. He was then 47 years old, tall and handsome; he looked like a Spanish Hidalgo, with deep brown eyes and a shock of white hair. He was giving an impressive, didactic and clear lecture, at the Sorbonne, on CO2 fixation during substrate oxidation, showing beautiful crystals of the condensing enzyme. His name was well known in France, but mostly from the literature, as Europe was just recovering from the war and international meetings were scarce. It was my first international meeting and I was excited. I had already made up my mind that I wanted to do my postdoctoral studies in Ochoa's lab and my supervisor, Eugene Aubel, introduced me to him. Severo Ochoa spoke fluent French and I was thrilled when he accepted me in his lab at New York University (N.Y.U.) to start in September 1953. We agreed that I should first spend a few months in Irwin C. Gunsalus's lab in Urbana. Severo was happy to get already trained postdocs, and I admired Gunsalus's work. Fortunately Gunsalus agreed to the scheme.