Bruce Merrifield, 1984. Photo by Ingbert Grüttner
Merrifield, Bruce (1921-2006) was an American biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1984 for the invention of solid-phase peptide synthesis.
Merrifield studied chemistry as an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles. He earned his Ph.D. in 1949 and then moved to New York City to begin a postdoctoral position at what was then the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, now called Rockefeller University. Merrifield became a professor at The Rockefeller University in 1966.
He first published the process for SPPS in the early 1960s and then refined each step of it until the final yield was greater than 99 percent. Using this refined version of SPPS, Merrifield was able to build peptides such as the pancreatic hormone glucagon; the stomach hormone gastrin; the antibacterial peptide cecropin, found in insects; the bee venom toxin melittin and its hybrids; and immunoglobulin fragments.
Years at The Rockefeller University: 1949-1992; emeritus 1992-2006