Restoring and Regulating the Body’s Biochemistry

In the early 20th century, scientists made great strides in understanding the roles of the body’s own chemicals in regulating its functions and transmitting information among its parts. Among these chemical substances were enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and histamines. Since many diseases were thought to be caused by some sort of imbalance in the body, it seemed obvious to researchers that assisting or interfering with these substances ought to provide treatments for many maladies. The second half of the century built on these early investigations and ideas and ushered in the era of rational drug design. Whereas, historically, drug developments often resulted from trial and error, the principles of rational drug design were based on a deeper understanding of the body’s biochemistry and involved designing molecules with specific molecular structures to interact with biochemical processes in specific ways.

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The Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields, with over 425 oral histories that deal with various aspects of science, of scientists, and of scientific practices. For more information please visit CHF’s Oral History Program or e-mail oralhistory@

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