Jens Christian Skou

Jens Christian Skou ( born October 8, 1918 in Lemvig ) is a Danish physician and biophysicist. He received in 1997 together with John Ernest Walker and Paul Delos Boyer for his work on the adenosine triphosphate ( ATP ) and the discovery of the sodium-potassium ion pump the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.


Jens Christian Skou was born in 1918 in Lemvig in West Jutland. He studied medicine at the University of Copenhagen and completed his studies in 1944. He then worked in clinics in Hjørring and Aarhus. His promotion followed in 1954 at the Institute of Physiology at the University of Aarhus. In 1963 he was at the same university as professor of physiology and remained there until his retirement in 1988.

Since 1977 he is member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, since 2008 National Academy of Sciences.


Like his colleagues Boyer and Jens Christian Skou Walker dealt primarily with enzymes that catalyze the work of adenosine triphosphate, the main energy suppliers in the metabolism of organisms. He focused primarily on the degradation of ATP during Boyer and Walker is involved in the synthesis of ATP by the enzyme ATP synthase.

Already in the 1950s sought Skou for an enzyme in the cell membrane of nerve cells, which makes the degradation of ATP. He came across a transport enzyme which causes the transport of substances through the cell membrane, while ATP consumed. He named it as sodium potassium ATPase, since the ions of the potassium and the sodium transported and thus provides for a stable resting membrane potential of the cells. He could show that is enzymatically degraded in these transport processes in ATP and adenosine diphosphate here (ADP) and a phosphate is broken.