William John Young

William John Young

William John Young (January 26, 1878 - May 14, 1942) was an English biochemist.

Beginnings and Education

William John Young was born on January 26,1878 in Withington, Manchester, England. He received a B.Sc. in 1898 and a M.Sc. in 1902 at Owen College, Manchester. Young began his research early in his career, and was granted the Levinstein and Dalton research exhibitions for 1899-1900 and 1900-1901 respectivelycite web|url = http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A120673b.htm |title = Young, William John (1878 - 1942) Biographical Entry - Australian Dictionary of Biography Online |accessdate = 2008-06-30] .

Yeast Fermentation Experiment

From 1900-19912 Young held the title of Assistant Biochemist at the Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine in London. Here, he worked collaboratively with Sir Arthur Harden on the mechanism of fermenting enzymes in yeast extract. Their research extended the work of Eduard Buchner on cell-free alcoholic fermentation by the observation that salts of orthophosphoric acid stimulate that fermentation. They developed a superior apparatus to collect and measure the gases that evolved during alcohol fermentation. This model employed a volumetric measurement of CO2, while former apparatuses used a gravimetric measurement.http://www.jstor.org/view/1479571x/ap030011/03a00010/6?frame=noframe&userID=8da11155@georgetown.edu/01cc99332200501bc2c9f&dpi=3&config=jstor]

Using this new apparatus, Arthur Harden and Young inadvertently discovered the sugar diphosphate in the system [Harden and Young, 1913] . That compound, which was coined the Harden-Young ester, was later shown to be fructose-1,6-diphosphate [Nelson and Cox, 2007] . This compound was the first chemical intermediate discovered in fermentation. Its discovery led to the ultimate description of fermentation in terms of molecular intermediates. Harden’s and Young’s general findings can be summarized by the following equations:

# 2C6H12O6 + 2Na2HPO4 = C6H10O4(PO4Na2)+2H2O + CO2 +2C2H6O;
# C6H10O4(PO4Na2)2 + H2O = C6H12O6 + 2Na2HPO4

In 1910, Young received his D.Sc. from the University of London.

Research in Australia

In 1913, Young and his family migrated to Queensland, Australia, where he was appointed Biochemist at the Australian Institute of Tropical Medicine, Townsville. In 1920, Young became a lecturer at the University of Melbourne. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1924 and Foundation Professor in 1938 . During these years, his interests were extended to applied biochemistry of food preservation. He was a forerunner in refrigeration techniques, and some of his methods are still being used with bananas..

While in Australia, Young conducted several experiments related to the biochemistry of blood. In 1915, he performed a set of experiments to compare the effects of salvarsan and neosalvarsan to the behavior of atoxyl in animal blood [Young 1918] . He found that they were very similar to one another, and all led to a form of arsenic associated with blood proteins. This arsenic was found to be localized to the plasma and the red blood cells in the blood.

In response to previous studies of the anti-tryptic action of blood serum, Young conducted a series of experiments in 1918 in which he investigated the possible mechanism of this anti-tryptic effect of the blood sera of various animals. His research led him to the tentative conclusion that trypsin was not a protein (Young 1915, 1918). In later research this conclusion was refuted. He did, however, provide valuable improvements to the techniques utilized in related research.

In 1920, Young embarked on an investigation of the pigment melanin found in the skin and hair of animals and humans (Young 1914, 1921) . He found that it could be extracted by treatment with dilute alkali. This research provided him insight into the structure of melanin and it’s role in hair and skin. [cite web|url = http://buffy.lib.unimelb.edu.au/cgi-bin/mua-search?interest=William%20J.%20Young;list_name=title;interestb=;list_nameb=title;dropa=;items_page=10;button=Search;search=yes;tdetails=1835#liststart |title = The University of Melbourne - Archives - UMA Image Catalogue - Search |accessdate = 2008-06-30]


* [http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/biogs/P000925b.htm Bright Sparcs Biographical entry]
* [http://buffy.lib.unimelb.edu.au/cgi-bin/mua-search?interest=William%20J.%20Young;list_name=title;interestb=;list_nameb=title;dropa=;items_page=10;button=Search;search=yes;tdetails=1835#liststart The University of Melbourne - Archives - UMA Image Catalogue]
* Nelson DL, Cox MM (2007) Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry, 4th ed., W. H. Freeman, New York.
* Harden A, Thompson J, Young WJ (1911) “Apparatus for Collecting and Measuring the Gases evolved during Fermentation. Biochem J.; 5(5): 230-235.
* Harden A, Young WJ (1913) “The Enzymatic Formation of Polysaccharides by Yeast Preparations.” Biochem J. Dec; 7(6): 630-636.
* Young, WJ (1914), “A Note on the Black Pigment in the Skin of an Australian Black”. Biochem J. Oct; 8(5): 460-462.
* Young WJ (1921) “The Extraction of Melanin from Skin with Dilute Alkali”. Biochem J. 1921; 15(1): 118-122.
* Young WJ (1918) “Studies in the Antitryptic Action of Blood Serum.” Biochem J; 12(4): 499-515.
* Young WJ (1915) “The Fixation of Salvarsan and Neosalvarsan by the Blood after Intravenous Injection.” Biochem J. Dec; 9(4): 479-484.
* Young WJ (1915) “Observations upon the body temperature of Europeans living in the tropics.”J Physiol. May 12; 49(4): 222-232.


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