Structural Biochemistry/Ivan Berkes

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Professor Ivan Berke was the founder of the clinic enzymology and medical biochemistry in Serbia and Yugoslavia who played an important role in pharmacy and medicine. Many students under his tutorship became biochemists who specialized in my different fields. His contribution will help many new generations in the medical field. He was a role model to all of his students in every aspect.


Professor Ivan Berke was born on November 13th 1910 in Bjelovar. In 1933, he graduated from a Pharmacy Department in Zagreb. In 1936, he graduated from the 7th group of Chemistry In Zagreb. He then served in military for one year. In 1939, he obtained a doctorate in chemistry and was elected to become an assistant at the Chemical Institute of the Faculty of Medicine. After holding several positions at the Institute of Chemical, he then became director of that Institute. He became a scientific advisor in Budapest and then worked for the Institute of Chemistry in Zagreb until 1953. During 1953 and 1960, he was an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the Medical Faculty in Skopje. In 1960, he joined the Biochemistry Institute in Belgrade. Later in 1964, he was elected as a Senior Professor of Biochemistry and remained at this position until retirement in 1978.

Academic Career and Contribution[edit]

His contribution in scientific work was first influenced by Tomislav Pinter, who explained to him about how analytical and physical chemistry worked. In 1931, with the help of professor Milo Mladenovi, he then became more interested in preparative organic chemistry and Pregl’s micro-analysis. After that, he focused on determining the functional groups of polyterpene acid in a-elemi and b-elemonic acids. This work led to the first papers about the new derivatives of dihydro- and dribromineelemonic acid, and di- and tetrazonide. With the help of Dr Pinter, he focused more about inorganic analytics.

He was the one who created a basis for electrophoresis. This technique became a main focus on clinical biochemistry. Due to financial problems to use the large apparatus in the lab, Dr Berke introduced some methods of solutions for paper electrophoresis. Later then, he was one of the greatest investigators in this field and his works were cited in everything that dealt with this topic.

Besides many applications of this electrophoresis, the most interesting study was of nephritic syndrome in children in 1952. Dr Berke spent several years developing “Thiol Function” in Serbia which led to his achievement in determining the activity of enzyme dimethyleethine: homocysteine methylferase.

He spent most of his time doing methodological research in biochemistry and enzymology. He became more and more interested in enzyme and finally ended up with this famous book “General and Medical Enzymology”. He was a tutor for 18 years during the time he was in Belgrade. More than 150 students under his guidance became biochemists who specialized in my different fields. Throughout his life, he had published many books and articles all over the world.


Biochem, J.Med, . "Journal of Medical Biochemistry." Journal of Medical Biochemistry. 30.2 (june2011): 160-166. Print.