Rittenberg, David

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RITTENBERG, DAVID (1906–1970), U.S. biochemist. Rittenberg, who was born in New York, was a member of the faculty of Columbia University from 1934 onward. He was professor of biochemistry at the university's College of Physicians and Surgeons until 1956 when he became executive officer of the department of biochemistry. In 1965 he was appointed chairman of the department. He was one of the pioneers in the use of isotopes to label molecules and so trace their movements and chemical transformation in metabolism. By this method, he and his co-workers showed that the constituents of the body, including its fat stores, are in a constant state of dynamic change. Rittenberg discovered, with the aid of isotopic labeling, that fatty acids and cholesterol originate in the body from small molecules such as acetate.

Rittenberg was associated with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the Office of Research and Development. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was a governor of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

[Mordecai L. Gabriel]