Sunday, August 28, 2011

George Hoyt Whipple

George Hoyt Whipple was born on August 28, 1878 in Ashland, New Hampshire. His father, Ashley Cooper Whipple, and paternal grandfather, Solomon Mason Whipple, were both country doctors. When Whipple was two years old his father died of pneumonia and he was raised by his mother and grandmother. As a boy he enjoyed spending time out doors, hunting and fishing which he did throughout his life. Through prep school and college he earned money for his education during breaks and summers providing help and service to tourists to Squam Lake and Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire. He attended Andover Academy and Yale University, graduating with an A.B. in 1900.

Intending to become a physician like his father and grandfather he took a year off from school and earned money for medical school working at Dr. Holbrook's Military School in Ossining, New York, where he taught mathematics and science and served as an athletics coach. In 1901 he entered Johns Hopkins University Medical School. He did so well in his first year anatomy and physiology classes that he won the chance to serve as a student assistant in those classes in his second year. During medical school Whipple became fascinated with pathology, studying the effects of disease on tissues. He graduated medical school in 1905. Graduating fourth in a class of fifty four, he had his choice of internships and choose to stay at Johns Hopkins as a pathology assistant until 1907.

In 1907 Whipple went to Panama and worked as a pathologist at Ancon Hospital, later named Gorgas Hospital, during the building of the Panama Canal. In 1908 he returned to Johns Hopkins first as an assistant, and later an instructor, a associate and associate professor of pathology. In 1914 he was appointed professor of research medicine and director of the Hooper Foundation for Medical Research at the University of California. He was dean of the University of California Medical school from 1920 to 1921. In 1921 he became the dean of the then newly founded and yet to be built medical school at Rochester University. He he served as dean until 1954 and remained at Rochester University, as a professor of pathology, the rest of his life.

Whipple's research was concerned with anemia and the physiology and pathology of the liver. His experiments with anemic dogs revealed that a diet of liver reversed the effects of the anemia. Whipple found that diets of meat were more effective in curing anemia than vegetable diets, but cooked apricots were surprisingly effective. His research led William Murphy and George Minot to experiment with liver diets for people suffering from pernicious anemia, which cured it. Whipple, Murphy, and Minot were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1934 for "their discoveries concerning liver therapy in cases of anemia". Whipple was also the first to describe Whipple's disease, a rare infectious disease caused by the bacterium Tropheryma whipplei.

Whipple died on February 1, 1976.


Miller, Leon L.; "George Hoyt Whipple: 1878-1976"; Biographical Memiors; National Academy Press; 1995

George Hoyt Whipple, Nobel biography

George Hoyt Whipple, Wikipedia entry

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