Casimir Funk facts for kids
February 23, 1884
Warsaw, Congress Poland
|Died||November 19, 1967
New York, NY, U.S.
Funk Foundation for Medical Research
|Alma mater||University of Bern, Switzerland|
|Known for||Nutritional research, formulation of the concept of vitamins|
Kazimierz Funk (//; Polish: [kaˈʑimʲɛʂ ˈfuŋk]; February 23, 1884 – November 19, 1967), commonly anglicized as Casimir Funk, was a Polish biochemist, generally credited with being among the first to formulate (in 1912) the concept of vitamins, which he called "vital amines" or "vitamines".
After reading an article by the Dutchman Christiaan Eijkman that indicated that persons who ate brown rice were less vulnerable to beri-beri than those who ate only the fully milled product, Funk tried to isolate the substance responsible, and he succeeded. Because that substance contained an amine group, he called it "vitamine".
It was later to be known as vitamin B (niacin), though he thought that it would be thiamine (vitamin B) and described it as "anti-beri-beri-factor". In 1911 he published his first paper in English, on dihydroxyphenylalanine. Funk was sure that more than one substance like Vitamin B1 existed, and in his 1912 article for the Journal of State Medicine, he proposed the existence of at least four vitamins: one preventing beriberi (“antiberiberi”); one preventing scurvy (“antiscorbutic”); one preventing pellagra (“antipellagric”); and one preventing rickets (“antirachitic”). From there, Funk published a book, The Vitamines, in 1912, and later that year received a Beit Fellowship to continue his research.
Funk was an early investigator of the problem of pellagra. He suggested that a change in the method of milling corn was responsible for the outbreak of pellagra, but no attention was paid to his article on this subject.
The "e" at the end of "vitamine" was later removed, when it was realized that vitamins need not be nitrogen-containing amines.
He postulated the existence of other essential nutrients, which became known as vitamins B1, B2, C, and D.
In 1936 he determined the molecular structure of thiamine, though he was not the first to isolate it.
After returning to the United States, in 1940 he became president of the Funk Foundation for Medical Research. He spent his last years studying the causes of neoplasms ("cancers").
Umetaro Suzuki had in 1910 succeeded in extracting a water-soluble complex of micronutrients from rice bran and had named it "aberic acid", but the German translation, unlike the Japanese original, had failed to note that it was a newly discovered nutrient.
The Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America (PIASA) annually honors Polish-American scientists with the Casimir Funk Natural Sciences Award. Past winners have included Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffmann, Aleksander Wolszczan, Hilary Koprowski, Peter T. Wolczanski, Wacław Szybalski, Zbyszek Darzynkiewicz and Benoît Mandelbrot.
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