CARL FERDINAND CORI and GERTY THERESA CORI, née RADNITZ
biochemists, husband-and-wife team whose discovery of a phosphate-containing form of the simple sugar glucose, and its universal
importance to carbohydrate metabolism, led to an understanding of hormonal influence on the interconversion of sugars and starches
in the animal organism. Their discoveries earned them (with Bernardo Houssay) the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1947.
They met while students at the German University of Prague and were married in 1920, receiving their medical degrees the same year.
Emigrating to the United States in 1922, they joined the staff of the Institute for the Study of Malignant Disease, Buffalo, N.Y.
(1922-31). As faculty members of the Washington University medical school, St. Louis (from 1931), they discovered (1936) the activated
intermediate, glucose 1-phosphate (phosphate bound to a specific carbon atom on the glucose molecule), known as the "Cori ester." They
demonstrated that it represents the first step in the conversion into glucose of the animal storage carbohydrate glycogen, large
quantities of which are found in the liver, and--because the reaction is reversible--in some cases the last step in the conversion
of blood glucose to glycogen.
Six years later they isolated and purified the enzyme responsible for catalyzing the glycogen-Cori ester reaction, and with it
they achieved the test-tube synthesis of glycogen in 1943. Proof of the interconversion allowed them to formulate the "Cori
cycle," postulating that liver glycogen is converted to blood glucose that is reconverted to glycogen in muscle, where its
breakdown to lactic acid provides the energy utilized in muscle contraction. The lactic acid is used to re-form glycogen in
the liver. Studying the way in which hormones affect carbohydrate metabolism in animals, the Coris showed that epinephrine induces
the formation of a type of phosphorylase enzyme favouring conversion of glycogen to activated glucose and that insulin causes the
removal of sugar from the blood by promoting the addition of phosphate to glucose.
After his wife's death Carl Cori devoted his efforts to research concerning the physico-chemical action of enzymes involved in the
breakdown of glycogen to lactic acid.