Dr. John Bennett Fenn (*)
Dr. John Bennett Fenn (born June 15, 1917 in New York City) is a research professor of analytical chemistry who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002. Fenn won the award for his work in the field of mass spectrometry, specifically for the electrospray ionization technique often used to identify and analyze biological macromolecules. He was awarded the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities Award for outstanding contributions to Biomolecular Technologies in 2002.
Fenn's discovery quickly produced broad practical benefits. For example, it rapidly increased the speed with which complex new pharmaceutical compounds could be evaluated, leading directly to the development of life-saving AIDS medications (protease inhibitors) in the mid-1990s.
Fenn, born in New York City to parents who were living in Hackensack, New Jersey, later moved with his family to Berea, Kentucky as a young teenager. He earned an A.B. from Berea College in his new hometown and a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1940. He then spent three years at Princeton University as Director of Project SQUID, a funded by the Office of Naval Research.
“ (Willard Gibbs) The greatest thermodynamicist of them all ”
—John Fenn, Engines, Energy, and Entropy
He joined the Yale University faculty in 1962. In 1987, he reached the mandatory retirement age. Fighting age discrimination and a University-mandated move to smaller laboratory space, Fenn remained at Yale and was 70 years old before he began work on what would in time become his Nobel Prize-winning discovery.
Fenn joined Virginia Commonwealth University in 1994 as professor of analytical chemistry, after more than 20 years at Yale University.
The patent rights to electrospray ionization became the subject of a legal case between Yale University and Fenn, and on February 8, 2005 Yale was awarded over one million dollars and partial patent rights to the technique.
1. ^ Fenn, John, B. (1982). Engines, Energy, and Entropy – a Thermodynamics Primer. W.H. Freeman and Co.. ISBN 0-7167-1281-4.
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