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John Bennett Fenn

Fenn, John Bennett, 1917–2010, American chemist, b. New York City, Ph.D. Yale, 1940. Fenn spent the early years of his career working in industry (1940–52) and then for the U.S. Navy (1952–67) before becoming a professor at Yale (1967–94). He joined the faculty at Virginia Commonwealth Univ. in 1994, where he remained until his death. Fenn shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Koichi Tanaka and Kurt Wüthrich for their work on biological macromolecules. Fenn is credited with developing a mass spectrometry technique known as electrospray ionization, which enables biological macromolecules to be identified and analyzed. Previous techniques were capable of identifying only small molecules. As a result of Fenn's work, complex new pharmaceutical compounds can be evaluated much more quickly, and his discovery led directly to the development of a new class of AIDS medications known as protease inhibitors.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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