The pioneer of enzyme engineering

Giants in History: Japanese chemist Takamine Jokichi (3 November 1854 – 22 July 1922) founded the Tokyo Artificial Fertilizer Company, where he isolated a starch-digesting enzyme (named takadiastase) from the fungus Aspergillus oryzae.

After emigrating to the United States, Jokichi established a research laboratory and licensed the rights to takadiastase to one of the U.S.’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Parke-Davis, which marketed it as a treatment for dyspepsia. Subsequently, Takamine patented several discoveries that enabled the industrial production of enzymes and in 1894 was granted the first patent on a microbial enzyme in the U.S for the process of extracting takadiastase. Supported by the substantial profits from takadiastase’s sales, Jokichi also isolated the hormone adrenaline, the first effective bronchodilator to treat asthma, from animal glands. Aside from his research and business activities, Jokichi was dedicated to maintaining goodwill between the US and Japan. Together with the mayor of Tokyo, he donated many of the blossoming cherry trees in the West Potomac Park surrounding the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC

Published: 13 Oct 2022


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