Maude Menten Biochemistry

Biochemist: Developed the Michaelis-Menten equation for enzyme kinetics

The Story

Menten was one of the most versatile, innovative investigators in chemistry in the early part of the century. After receiving her medical doctorate in 1911, she was a demonstrator of physiology in MacCallum’s laboratory at the University of Toronto. However, she had to leave Canada to pursue a career as a research scientist because in those days women were not allowed to do research in Canadian universities. She became a research fellow at the Rockefeller Institute, and a research fellow at Western Reserve University. Then she went to study with Leonor Michaelis in Berlin, where they developed the Michaelis-Menten equation. This equation gives an expression for the rate of an enzyme reaction and became fundamental to the interpretation of how an enzyme reacts on its substrate. Ultimately, Menten earned a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Chicago, Illinois. She later became a professor on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania. Her publication in 1944 of a new technique for the demonstration of the enzyme alkaline phosphatase ushered in the new azo-dye method.

Following her retirement, Menten returned to Canada and continued her research into cancer at the Medical Research Institute of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Sources: Computational Laboratory for Environmental Biotechnology, University of Virginia; "Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science," Donald R. Franceschetti, ed, 1999.

The Person

March 20, 1879
Port Lambton, Ontario
Date of Death
July 26, 1960
Place of Death
Leamington, Ontario
Other Interests
Fluent in several languages; accomplished musician and artist.
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • BA, U of Toronto, 1904
  • MA (Physiology), U of Toronto, 1907
  • MD, U of Toronto, 1911
  • PhD, U of Chicago, 1916
Last Updated
March 31, 2017

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