His family was not well off, but he managed to study at Yale University which was near his home, by working as a technician in the chemistry laboratory and assisting with lecture demonstration.
For his bachelor’s degree he was asked to investigate why scallops taste sweeter when reheated from a previous meal than when freshly cooked. This project led to discovery of glycogen and glycine in the muscle tissue.
In 1880, Chittenden received his PhD and in 1882 he started his career as the Professor of Physiological Chemistry in the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University.
In collaboration with the German physiologist Wilhelm Freidrich Kuhne (1837-1900), the two studied the enzymatic splitting of proteins, which has contributed to the understanding of the complexity of protein molecules.
Chittenden helped to establish biochemistry as a discipline in its own right.
Russell Henry Chittenden (1856-1943)