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Donald F. Steiner was born in 1930 in Lima, Ohio. He completed his B.S. in Chemistry and Zoology from the University of Cincinnati in 1952. He completed his M.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Chicago in 1956 and M.D. from the same university in 1956.
Donald F. Steiner is known for his discoveries on proinsulin, the precursor of insulin which is a hormone that helps the body control the use of sugar. He found that insulin is synthesized from a larger precursor protein in the beta cells of the pancreas and this led the way to elucidation of how the islet cells function, and how peptide hormones are synthesized and metabolized. He and his colleagues discovered some of the enzymes that convert proinsulin into insulin, and also devised methods for measuring insulin and its precursors in human serum.
- In 1970 he received the Ernst Oppenheimer Award for the Endocrine Society
- In 1971 he received the Canada Gairdner International Award
- In 1976 he received the Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement from the American Diabetes Association
- In 1984/5, he was awarded the Wolf Prize in Medicine for "his discoveries concerning the bio-synthesis and processing of insulin which have had profound implications for basic biology and clinical medicine".
- In 1993, he received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Medicine at Uppsala University, Sweden 
- In 2014, he received the University of Chicago Alumni Medal
- Chicago Tribune obituary
- Donald F Steiner at the University of Chicago Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- Donald F. Steiner Winner of Wolf Prize in Medicine - 1985
- Biochemist Wins Wolf Prize
- 2014 University of Chicago Alumni Medalist Donald F. Steiner
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