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Today is the birthday of Konrad Emil Bloch, a German-American scientist who fled Nazi Germany in 1936.  Born January 21, 1912 in Neisse, Bloch began his studies at the Technical University of Munich.  Upon his arrival in the United States, he finished his Ph. D at Columbia University, where he taught for several years.  His career included the very best universities in the US:  Columbia, Harvard, University of Chicago.  His main contribution to science and the reason for his Nobel Prize in 1964 was his discovery of the mechanisms of cholesterol production in the body.  The word was coined in 1827 in French as cholestrine and entered English in 1894 with new suffix -ol to denote an alcohol base.  A combination of the Ancient Greek words khole meaning bile and steros meaning stiff or solid.  The solid part of the nomenclature came from gallstones:  cholesterol was originally separated and identified in the gallstones in solid form.   

Image of cholesterol Crystals in Synovial Fluid (compensated polariscopy) by Ed Uthman under Creative Commons 3.0 license.  Image of Konrad Bloch courtesy Nobel Media.

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