Frederick Gowland Hopkins (1861-1947)
“The Analyst and the Medical Man.” The Analyst 31, no. 369 (December 1906), 385-397.
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Frederick Gowland Hopkins was the first scientist to elucidate the “accessory food factor,” the idea that food contains trace amounts of substances essential for nutrition. Accessory food factors later came to be called vitamins.
Hopkins discovered tryptophan, an essential amino acid, as early as 1901. He demonstrated that tryptophan was necessary for life and that it must be supplied through diet. Hopkins read the results of these experiments at a meeting of the Society of Public Analysts in 1906, noting, “no animal can live upon a mixture of pure protein, fat and carbohydrates.” Despite discoveries that backed up his claims, skepticism about the existence of vitamins lingered among the medical community into the 1920s.
Hopkins’ work in nutrition earned him the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 1929, an honor he shared with Christiaan Eijkman, the physician whose research resulted in a cure for beriberi.