Peter Mitchell - Biochemists, Family and Childhood

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Peter Mitchell's Personal Details

Peter Mitchell was a British chemist who won the 1978 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

InformationDetail
BirthdaySeptember 22, 1920
Died onApril 10, 1992
NationalityBritish
FamousScientists, Chemists, Biochemists
SpousesEileen Rollo (m.1944–1954; divorced), Helen Robertson (m. 1958)
Birth PlaceMitcham, Surrey, England
GenderMale
FatherChristopher Gibbs Mitchell
MotherKate Beatrice Dorothy
Sun SignVirgo
Born inMitcham, Surrey, England
Famous asBiochemist
Died at Age71

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Peter Mitchell's photo

Who is Peter Mitchell?

Peter Mitchell was a British chemist who won the 1978 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of the chemiosmotic mechanism of ATP synthesis. His work in the theoretical approaches in biochemistry which led to the development of his chemiosmotic theory paved the way for the development of the field of bioenergetics. The son of a civil engineer, he started displaying his love for science at a young age. However, as a school student he tended to ignore subjects like history and geography though he excelled in mathematics and physics. He failed the scholarship entrance examination for Cambridge, but ultimately managed to get admitted to Jesus College, Cambridge, on the intervention of his headmaster, Christopher Wiseman. Even in college he did not give a stellar performance though he displayed great potential in biochemistry and thrived under the guidance of his mentor, Frederick Gowland Hopkins. He eventually began his academic career and went on to set up a biochemical research unit, called the Chemical Biology Unit, at the University of Edinburgh. In the 1960s, he embarked on a program of research on chemiosmotic reactions along with his colleagues which eventually earned him the Nobel Prize.

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Childhood & Early Life

Peter Dennis Mitchell was born on September 29, 1920, in Mitcham, Surrey, England to Christopher Gibbs Mitchell, a civil servant, and Kate Beatrice Dorothy (née) Taplin.

He received his primary education from local grammar schools and then went to the Queen’s College. He loved science and mathematics from a young age and excelled in these subjects. However, he ignored subjects like history and geography due to which he was unable to get excellent grades.

He appeared for the scholarship entrance examination at Cambridge but was unable to clear it. His headmaster Christopher Wiseman, who recognized Mitchell’s talent and potential, intervened and helped the young man get into Jesus College, Cambridge for the fall of 1939.

He studied physics, chemistry, physiology, and biochemistry for his Tripos I (first two years) and then biochemistry for his Tripos II (third year). He received second-class marks on his examinations but flourished in the Biochemistry Department under the guidance of Frederick Gowland Hopkins.

At Cambridge, he was appointed at a research post in the Department of Biochemistry in 1942 and performed war-related research under the supervision of James Danielli.

Career

While working towards the completion of his doctorate in 1950, Peter Mitchell was appointed the Demonstrator at the Department of Biochemistry by the new head of the department, Frank Young. Mitchell was awarded a Ph.D. in early 1951 for his work on the mode of action of penicillin.

As a demonstrator, he worked in the Sub-Department of Microbiology. In 1955, he was invited by Professor Michael Swann to set up and direct a biochemical research unit, called the Chemical Biology Unit, in the Department of Zoology, Edinburgh University. Mitchell accepted the offer.

In 1961, he was appointed to a Senior Lectureship at the Edinburgh University and was promoted to a Readership the next year. Around this time, he started suffering from acute gastric ulcers which greatly interfered with his ability to do research. He took a leave of absence and resigned in 1963.

He did not perform any research from 1963 to 1965 but supervised the restoration of a Regency-fronted Mansion, known as Glynn House, at Cornwall. He redesigned a major part of it as a research laboratory and in collaboration with a former colleague, Jennifer Moyle, founded a charitable company known as Glynn Research Ltd. Mitchell became its director of research in 1964.

It was during the 1960s that he began his landmark research on chemiosmotic reactions and reaction systems. Years of intensive work in collaboration with his colleagues led to the discovery of the mechanism of ATP synthesis.

At that time, the biochemical mechanism of ATP synthesis by oxidative phosphorylation was unknown and it was Mitchell who provided the chemiosmotic hypothesis which became the basis for understanding the actual process of oxidative phosphorylation.

His interest in studying the communication between molecules led to an interest in the problems of communication between individual people in civilized societies. On the basis on his own experiences, he deduced that smaller organizations in general are more effective than larger organizations for many purposes. Mitchell retired as director of research from Glynn in 1985.

Major Works

Peter Mitchell performed vital research in biochemistry and revolutionized the field with his discovery of the chemiosmotic mechanism of ATP synthesis. His chemiosmotic hypothesis provided the basis for understanding the actual process of oxidative phosphorylation.

Awards & Achievements

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1978 "for his contribution to the understanding of biological energy transfer through the formulation of the chemiosmotic theory.

In 1981, Mitchell was honored with the Copley medal "In recognition of his distinguished contribution to biology in his formulation and development of the chemiosmotic theory of energy transduction."

Personal Life & Legacy

Peter Mitchell’s first marriage was to Eileen Rollo in 1944. They couple had one daughter. The marriage, however, began to unravel within years and ended in divorce in 1954.

His second wife was Helen Robertson whom he wed in 1958.

He suffered from deafness and complications from a botched up surgery during his later years and died on 10 April 1992, at the age of 71.

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Peter Mitchell awards

YearNameAward

Other

FRS (1974)
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1978)
Copley Medal (1981)

Peter Mitchell biography timelines

  • // 29th Sep 1920
    Peter Dennis Mitchell was born on September 29, 1920, in Mitcham, Surrey, England to Christopher Gibbs Mitchell, a civil servant, and Kate Beatrice Dorothy (née) Taplin.
  • // 1939
    He appeared for the scholarship entrance examination at Cambridge but was unable to clear it. His headmaster Christopher Wiseman, who recognized Mitchell’s talent and potential, intervened and helped the young man get into Jesus College, Cambridge for the fall of 1939.
  • // 1942
    At Cambridge, he was appointed at a research post in the Department of Biochemistry in 1942 and performed war-related research under the supervision of James Danielli.
  • // 1944 To 1954
    Peter Mitchell’s first marriage was to Eileen Rollo in 1944. They couple had one daughter. The marriage, however, began to unravel within years and ended in divorce in 1954.
  • // 1950 To 1951
    While working towards the completion of his doctorate in 1950, Peter Mitchell was appointed the Demonstrator at the Department of Biochemistry by the new head of the department, Frank Young. Mitchell was awarded a Ph.D. in early 1951 for his work on the mode of action of penicillin.
  • // 1955
    As a demonstrator, he worked in the Sub-Department of Microbiology. In 1955, he was invited by Professor Michael Swann to set up and direct a biochemical research unit, called the Chemical Biology Unit, in the Department of Zoology, Edinburgh University. Mitchell accepted the offer.
  • // 1958
    His second wife was Helen Robertson whom he wed in 1958.
  • // 1961 To 1963
    In 1961, he was appointed to a Senior Lectureship at the Edinburgh University and was promoted to a Readership the next year. Around this time, he started suffering from acute gastric ulcers which greatly interfered with his ability to do research. He took a leave of absence and resigned in 1963.
  • // 1963 To 1965
    He did not perform any research from 1963 to 1965 but supervised the restoration of a Regency-fronted Mansion, known as Glynn House, at Cornwall. He redesigned a major part of it as a research laboratory and in collaboration with a former colleague, Jennifer Moyle, founded a charitable company known as Glynn Research Ltd. Mitchell became its director of research in 1964.
  • // 1978
    He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1978 "for his contribution to the understanding of biological energy transfer through the formulation of the chemiosmotic theory.
  • // 1981
    In 1981, Mitchell was honored with the Copley medal "In recognition of his distinguished contribution to biology in his formulation and development of the chemiosmotic theory of energy transduction."
  • // 1985
    His interest in studying the communication between molecules led to an interest in the problems of communication between individual people in civilized societies. On the basis on his own experiences, he deduced that smaller organizations in general are more effective than larger organizations for many purposes. Mitchell retired as director of research from Glynn in 1985.
  • // 10th Apr 1992
    He suffered from deafness and complications from a botched up surgery during his later years and died on 10 April 1992, at the age of 71.

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Peter Mitchell's FAQ

  • What is Peter Mitchell birthday?

    Peter Mitchell was born at 1920-09-22

  • When was Peter Mitchell died?

    Peter Mitchell was died at 1992-04-10

  • Which age was Peter Mitchell died?

    Peter Mitchell was died at age 71

  • Where is Peter Mitchell's birth place?

    Peter Mitchell was born in Mitcham, Surrey, England

  • What is Peter Mitchell nationalities?

    Peter Mitchell's nationalities is British

  • Who is Peter Mitchell spouses?

    Peter Mitchell's spouses is Eileen Rollo (m.1944–1954; divorced), Helen Robertson (m. 1958)

  • Who is Peter Mitchell's father?

    Peter Mitchell's father is Christopher Gibbs Mitchell

  • Who is Peter Mitchell's mother?

    Peter Mitchell's mother is Kate Beatrice Dorothy

  • What is Peter Mitchell's sun sign?

    Peter Mitchell is Virgo

  • How famous is Peter Mitchell?

    Peter Mitchell is famouse as Biochemist