Sir. John Walker
  • 1997 Nobel Prize in Chemistry


Sir John Ernest Walker (born 7 January 1941), British chemist who was co-recipient, with Paul D. Boyer, of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1997 for their explanation of the enzymatic process that creates adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Walker and Boyer’s findings offer insight into the way life-forms produce energy.

Education and Work Experience

1965-1969, Doctor of Philosophy at Oxford University
1969-1971, Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin
1971-1974, Fellow at the French National Centre for Scientific Research
1998-2013, director of the Mitochondrial Biology Unit at Cambridge
2015-Present, Emeritus Director at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge

Honors and Awards

1984, EMBO Member
1995, Fellow of the Royal Society
1997, Nobel Prize in Chemistry
1999, Knighted for services to molecular biology
2012, Copley Metal

Major Academic Achievements

Focusing on the chemical and structural composition of ATP synthase, John Walker determined the sequence of amino acids that make up the synthase’s protein units. By 1994, working with X-ray crystallographers, Walker clarified the three-dimensional structure of the ATP synthase. Since this structure, Walker and his colleagues have produced most of the crystal structures in the PDB of mitochondrial ATP synthase, including transition state structures and protein with bound inhibitors and antibiotics. Scientists trained in Walker's group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge or MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit have gone on to determine crystal bacterial complex I and cryo-EM maps of mitochondrial complex I and vacuolar type ATPases.