Karl Folkers (1906 - 1997) left a legacy of over 66 years of outstanding research in organic and biological chemistry. He received his B.S. (1928) from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in Chemistry (1931) from the University of Wisconsin. He carried out a postdoc in the Chemistry Department at Yale from 1931 to 1934 where he developed an interest in pharmaceutical chemistry. That led to his appointment to the research program at Merck in Rahway where he had his most productive years in research.
While at Merck, Dr. Folkers made a number of significant discoveries in the field of biological chemistry including the structure and synthesis of vitamin B 6, isolation and characterization of vitamin B 12 and the synthesis of Coenzyme Q 10. He was elected to the National Academy at the age of 39 and received the Presidential Medal of Science in 1990. He spent his later years at the University of Texas, Austin (1968 on) where he created the institute for Biomedical Research whose mission was to demonstrate the use of CoQ in clinical medicine.
Prior to his death, Dr. Folkers left some of his own money to Yale in remembrance of his formative years here as a postdoc. He established the Selma and Karl Folkers Lecture on Biomedical Research which was recently transferred to the MD-PhD Program. The inaugural Folkers Lecuture entitled, " Playing in Traffic: Membrane Protein Transport in Health and Disease," was given by Michael Caplan, MD, PhD., a 1987 graduate of our Program.)