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Robert K. Crane

Robert K. Crane

Robert K. Crane
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Biochemist
Was Chemist Scientist Biochemist
From United States of America
Type Science
Gender male
Birth 20 December 1919, Palmyra, USA
Death 31 October 2010, Williston, USA (aged 90 years)
Star sign Sagittarius
Harvard Medical School
Washington College
Robert K. Crane
The details (from wikipedia)


Robert Kellogg Crane (December 20, 1919 – October 31, 2010) was an American biochemist best known for his discovery of sodium-glucose cotransport.


Crane was born on December 20, 1919 in Palmyra, New Jersey, to Wilbur Fiske Crane, Jr. architect and engineer, and Mary Elizabeth McHale Crane. He is the grandson of Stephen Crane's brother Wilbur.

He received a B.S. from Washington College in 1942. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Crane studied in biochemistry with Eric Ball at Harvard from 1946 to 1949, then spent a year with Fritz Lipmann at Harvard Medical School, and received a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences in 1950. He then joined Carl Cori's Department of Biological Chemistry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he began his long interest in glucose metabolism and worked until 1962. After that, he was professor and chairman of the department of Biochemistry at the Chicago Medical School until 1966 and then became professor and chairman of the department of Physiology and Biophysics at Rutgers Medical School (now known as Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey until 1986. He received a Sc.D. from Washington College in 1982.

Discovery of cotransport

In the 1950s, Crane played a central role in establishing that glucose transport into the cell was the first step in glucose metabolism and its control. He demonstrated that neither the phosphorylation-dephosphorylation mechanism nor other covalent reactions accounted for glucose transport in the intestine.

Model of cotransport coupling of glucose transport to an Na pump by an Na circuit. Redrawn from Crane et al.

In August 1960, in Prague, Crane presented for the first time his discovery of the sodium-glucose cotransport as the mechanism for intestinal glucose absorption. Cotransport was the first ever proposal of flux coupling in biology and was the most important event concerning carbohydrate absorption in the 20th century.

Application in oral rehydration therapy

Crane's discovery of cotransport led directly to the development of oral rehydration therapy. This treatment counterbalances the loss of water and electrolytes caused by cholera via a glucose containing salt solution that accelerates water and electrolyte absorption. This is possible because cholera does not interfere with sodium-glucose cotransport.

Oral rehydration therapy saves the lives of millions of cholera patients in underdeveloped countries since the 1980s. In 1978, The Lancet wrote: "the discovery that sodium transport and glucose transport are coupled in the small intestine, so that glucose accelerates absorption of solute and water, was potentially the most important medical advance this century."

Applications in pharmaceutical drugs

Crane's discovery is also used in blockbuster drugs, such as the SSRI Prozac, which treat depression by inhibiting the Na/serotonin cotransporters in the brain.

Furthermore, major pharmaceutical companies are developing inhibitors of the Na/glucose cotransporters to treat diabetes and obesity.

Awards and honors

  • First Place, Southeast Regional Scholarship Competition, Lehigh University, 1938.
  • Kent County Scholar, Washington College, 1941–42.
  • Atomic Energy Commission Predoctoral Fellow, 1948–49.
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1957.
  • Headmaster's Alumni Medal, St. Andrew's School, 1963.
  • Alumni Award, Washington College, 1963.
  • Fellow, American Institute of Chemists, 1968.
  • Distinguished Achievement Award, American Gastroenterological Association, 1969.
  • Sir Arthur Hurst Memorial Lectureship, British Society of Gastroenterology, 1969.
  • Gastrointestinal Section Lectureship, American Physiological Society, 1971.
  • Fellow, New York Academy of Sciences, 1976.
  • Dr. Harold Lamport Award, New York Academy of Sciences, 1977.
  • Doctor of Science (honoris causa), Washington College, 1982.
  • Honorary Chairman, International Symposium on the 25th Anniversary of the Gradient Hypothesis, Aussois, France, 18, 19 and 20 September 1985.

Selected bibliography

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 03 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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