Lives of the fellows

George Richards Minot

b.2 December 1885 d.25 February 1950
AB Harvard(1908) MD Harvard(1912) Hon DSc Harvard(1928) Hon FRCPE(1931) *FRCP(1938)

George Minot was born in Boston, Massachusetts. The son of a successful practitioner, James Jackson Minot, and his wife, Elizabeth Whitney, he traced his ancestory to George Minott who emigrated from Saffron Walden in 1634. His grandmother was the daughter of James Jackson, Hersey professor of the theory and practice of physic at Harvard, who with John Collins Warren founded the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1821. He was educated at the Volkmann Private School in the ‘Back Bay’ and at Harvard, and in 1914 became research fellow in physiology with William H. Howell at the Johns Hopkins Hospital for a year, before joining James H. Means and Paul D. White in research work on blood under the direction of David L. Edsall at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

His particular interest in the association of dietary deficiency with anaemia led him in the 1920’s to investigate the value of a diet rich in liver in patients with pernicious anaemia, and in 1926 he was able to report with William P. Murphy the striking remission produced in forty-five (J. Amer. med. Ass., 1926, 87, 470-76). This gained for them and Dr Whipple the Nobel prize in physiology and medicine in 1934, by which time Minot was recognised as a leading haematologist and as one of the researchers on both sides of the Atlantic whose work was to lead to the isolation of vitamin B12 in 1950.

In 1918 he was assistant professor of medicine at Harvard, in 1921 chief of medical services at the Collis P. Huntington Hospital for Cancer Research, and in 1928 professor of medicine and director of the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory at the Boston City Hospital, which soon gained an international reputation. He wrote more than 150 articles in scientific journals and textbooks of medicine on anaemias, purpura, polycythaemia, chronic leukaemias and the association of anaemias with dietary deficiency. His work with E. J. Cohn on experimental liver fractions led to the effective oral liver extract marketed by Eli Lilly and Company. Recognition came in honours from England, Belgium, France, Germany, India and Finland. The College awarded him the Moxon medal in 1933 and Edinburgh University the Cameron prize in 1930, the year after he received the Kober medal of the Association of American Physicians.

In 1915 he married Marian Weld, who survived him with one son and two daughters.

Richard R Trail

* He was elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature..."

[Ann. intern. Med., 1950, 33, 504-05;, 1950, 1, 553-4 (p); Lancet, 1950, 1, 425 (p), 473-4; New York Times, 26 Feb. 1950; Trans. Ass. Amer. Phys., 1950, 63, 11-13; Trans. Stud. Coll. Phys. Philad., 1950, 18, 109-11; Times, 28 Feb. 1950; Va med. Mon., (George Richards Minot issue), 1951, 78, 1-56; F. M. Rackemann. The Inquisitive physician: the life and times of George Richards Minot. Cambridge (Mass.), 1956 (p).]

(Volume V, page 286)

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