Who Was George Hoyt Whipple (1878 - 1976)?

George Hoyt Whipple: Nobel Laureate & URMC Founder

Dr. Whipple (August 28, 1878 – February 1, 1976) was a pathologist, biochemical researcher and medical school educator. He won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1934 for his discovery that liver fed to anemic dogs reverses the effects of the anemia; this remarkable discovery led directly to successful liver treatment of pernicious anemia, which was invariably fatal.

 

He was born to Ashley Cooper Whipple and Frances Anna Hoyt in Ashland, New Hampshire. He was the son and grandson of physicians. Whipple attended Phillips Academy and then Yale University from which he graduated with a B.A. degree in 1900. He attended medical school at the Johns Hopkins University from which he received the M.D. degree in 1905. After graduation. Whipple worked in the pathology department at Hopkins until he went to Panama, during the time of the construction of the Panama Canal, as pathologist to the Ancon Hospital in 1907–08. Whipple returned to Baltimore, serving successively as Assistant, Instructor, Associate and Associate Professor in Pathology at The Johns Hopkins University between 1910 and 1914. In 1914,Then he was appointed Professor of Research Medicine and Director of the Hooper Foundation for Medical Research at the University of California Medical School. He was dean of that medical school in 1920 and 1921.

 

At the urging of University of Rochester President Rush Rhees, Dr. Whipple agreed, in 1921, to become the Founder and Dean of the Medical School. He served as the Dean until 1954 and remained as Professor of Pathology for the rest of his life. Many at the University remember him as a superb teacher. Dr. Whipple died in 1976 at the age of 97.

 

Dr. Whipple's main research was concerned with anemia and with the physiology and pathology of the liver. He won the Nobel Prize for his discovery that liver fed to anemic dogs reverses the effects of the anemia. This remarkable discovery led directly to successful liver treatment of pernicious anemia by Minot and Murphy. Before that time, pernicious anemia had been truly pernicious in that it was invariably fatal. In presenting the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1934, Professor I. Holmgren of the Nobel committee observed that "Of the three prize winners, it was Whipple who first occupied himself with the investigations for which the prize is now awarded. ... Whipple's experiments were planned exceedingly well, and carried out very accurately, and consequently their results can lay claim to absolute reliability. These investigations and results of Whipple's gave Minot and Murphy the idea that an experiment could be made to see whether favorable results might also be obtained in the case of pernicious anemia...by making use of the foods of the kind that Whipple had found to yield favorable results in his experiments regarding anemia from loss of blood." Whipple was also the first person to describe an unknown disease he called lipodystrophia intestinalis because there were abnormal lipid deposits in the small intestine wall. Whipple also correctly pointed to the bacterial cause of the disease in his original report in 1907. The condition has since come to be called Whipple's disease.

 

References:
1. Autobiographical notes of Lauren V. Ackerman. IN: Rosai J (Ed): Guiding the Surgeon's Hand, American Registry of Pathology, Washington, D.C., 1997; pp. 275–285.
2. "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1934: Presentation Speech". http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1934/press.html. Retrieved 3. January 2010
3. "The National Academies Press: Biographical Memoirs – George Hoyt Whipple". http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/biomems/gwhipple.html. Retrieved 3. January 2010

4. Science Association, Shardabai Pawar Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Shardanagar; Tal. Baramati; Dist. Pune – 413115 (India).