Indian scientistDied when: 53 years 210 days (642 months)
Star Sign: Capricorn
Yellapragada Subba Rao (12 January 1895 – 8 August 1948) was a pioneering Indian biochemist who discovered the function of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as an energy source in the cell, developed methotrexate for the treatment of cancer and led the department at Lederle laboratories in which Benjamin Minge Duggar discovered chlortetracycline (Aureomycin) in 1945.
A student of Madras Medical College, his elder brother and younger brother both died due to tropical sprue in the span of 8 days.
He subsequently discovered folic acid as a cure for tropical sprue.He discovered methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug still used today and also used for rheumatoid arthritis, and (DEC), the only effective drug for treating filariasis.
Most of his career was spent in the United States.Despite his isolation of ATP, Subbarao did not gain tenure at Harvard though he would lead some of America's most important medical research during World War II.
He is also credited with the first synthesis of the chemical compounds folic acid and methotrexate.Subbarao died in the United States due to cardiac arrest.
A contemporary of Subbarao, Cyrus H Fiske, suppressed and destroyed many of his important works out of envy.Subbarao's colleague, George Hitchings admitted, "Some of the nucleotides isolated by Subbarao had to be rediscovered years later by other workers because Fiske, apparently out of jealousy, did not let Subbarao's contributions see the light of the day." A fungus genus has been named Subbaromyces in his honor.
Writing in the April 1950 issue of Argosy, Doron K.Antrim observed, "You've probably never heard of Dr.Yellapragada Subbarao.Yet because he lived, you may be alive and are well today.
Because he lived, you may live longer."