Home Biological science In memoriam: Henry A. Harbury

In memoriam: Henry A. Harbury


Henry Harbury, biochemist, renowned educator and member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology since 1958, died on September 18, 2021. He was 93 years old.


This illustration from Henry Harbury’s 1956 single-author article in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on the redox potentials of horseradish peroxidase shows the apparatus he used for oxido titrations -reduction (A), an accessory for the reduction of solutions with hydrogen in the presence of a platinum asbestos catalyst (B) and a hydrogen electrode container (C).

Harbury was born on December 11, 1927 in the Netherlands. He did his graduate studies under Mansfield-Clark at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied the redox potentials of horseradish peroxidase. This enzyme is now used in a variety of biochemical applications, including immunohistochemistry.

Harbury was recruited by Joseph Fruton in the Department of Biochemistry at Yale University. There he and the graduate students he recruited, including Paul Loch, investigated the structure-function relationships of heme proteins, which served as the basis for many future studies in this area. After Fruton’s retirement, Harbury moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara in the mid-1960s to join the Department of Biological Sciences, where he continued his research on the structure and function relationships of proteins and enzymes. oxidative.

Harbury then moved to Dartmouth University, where he was professor and chair of the biochemistry department from 1972 to 1981 and president of the medical center from 1980. As president, he advocated for equal admission of women into the student body and into administrative positions, a testament to her lifelong commitment to supporting women in science. He retired from Dartmouth in 1996.

Outside the laboratory, Harbury was an esteemed teacher and educator. GP Corradin and Alfred Esser, former members of his lab, recall Harbury using light bulbs and other props to describe the mitochondrial electron transport chain to a captive audience. The late Alfred Gilman, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1994, wrote that Harbury brought “protein chemistry and thermodynamics” to life, and it was this that set Gilman on the path to biochemistry.

Harbury is survived by his daughters, Jennifer and Kathy, and his sons, Olin and Alexander.