Martin Kamen joined the Rad Lab team in 1937 as a chemist and he developed methods that are still used in standard modern radiochemistry laboratories. He started using the carbon-11 that was initially available, but frustrated by the tracer’s short half-life (21 minutes), Kamen set out to find a radioisotope of carbon that would be better suited for use in biochemistry research. His discovery of Carbon-14 in 1940 opened the way for the many biochemical advances that were to follow. The biochemical basis for the metabolism of glucose, proteins, and carbohydrates were begun at Berkeley, along with the study of photosynthetic processes in plants. Kamen’s work provided the tools and laid the bassis for Mel Calvin who was awarded the Nobel prize for his work at Berkeley on photosynthesis.
Martin Kamen, Ph.D.