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Michael Somogyi Papers

  • 1912–1979
  • Austrian-Hungarian
    Created and used by Michael Somogyi
  • 20 linear feet
    Papers, artifacts, photographs, glass slides
  • Gift of Michael Somogyi
  • 2001:03
  • Copyright restrictions may apply (contact CHF archivist).

Description

Includes notebooks, correspondence, reprints, photographs, and miscellaneous laboratory equipment related to Somogyi's scientific work on diabetes.

Background note

Michael Somogyi was born in Reinsdorf, Austria-Hungary, in 1883. He received a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Budapest, and after spending some time there as a graduate assistant in biochemistry, he immigrated to the United States. From 1906 to 1908 he was an assistant in biochemistry at Cornell University.

Returning to his native land in 1908, he became head of the Municipal Laboratory in Budapest, and in 1914 he was granted his Ph.D. After World War I, the politically unstable situation in his homeland led him to return to the United States where he took a job as an instructor in biochemistry at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. While there he assisted Philip A. Shaffer and Edward Adelbert Doisy, Sr., a future Nobel Prize recipient, in developing a new method for the preparation of insulin in sufficiently large amounts and of sufficient purity to make it a viable treatment for diabetes. This early work with insulin helped foster Somogyi’s lifelong interest in the treatment and cure of diabetes. He was the first biochemist appointed to the staff of the newly opened Jewish Hospital, and he remained there as the director of their clinical laboratory until his retirement in 1957. A serious stroke suffered in 1969 curtailed the many teaching and writing activities Somogyi had planned for his retirement years, and he died in St. Louis in 1971 at age 88.

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