Perspectives on the Discovery of Vitamin B12

  • Karl Folkers
Part of the Industry-University Cooperative Chemistry Program Symposia book series (IUCC)


In high school, my propensity for chemistry was revealed by my receiving the highest refund in money in recognition of my breaking less glassware than anyone else in the class. The magnitude of my refund was more important than that of my grade. In four years at the University of Illinois under Speed Marvel and Roger Adams, I became completely addicted to organic chemistry. During doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin, Homer Adkins did not approve of my spending three dollars of my fifty dollar monthly income for Gortner’s new book on biochemistry. After that, I dared not look at any biochemistry, but during three years at Yale as a postdoc, Professor Treat B. Johnson encouraged me to extrapolate organic chemistry not only to the biological but to the medical. So, when I left Yale I joined the newly established Laboratory for Pure Research at Merck and declined an offer to join a famous company to do research on polymers. At Merck, I thought I should have an M.D., but it was too late. I was married, had a daughter, and commuting to Columbia in New York City from Raway and keeping my job at Merck was not possible. However, 55 years later, I did receive an honorary M.D. In ′34, I became susceptible to medical goals and still am after almost five decades. At that early time at Merck, I was naive and yielded to the attraction of trying to purify the antipernicious anemia factor. I had the right boss who allowed me to have my head. At present, I am reading Arthur Kornberg’s —“For the Love of Enzymes”. On page 28 of the chapter on The Vitamin Hunters, Dr. Kornberg wrote that “nutrition cannot be left to the art of medicine and that the only answer is hard science and sustaining the faith that persistent scientific effort eventually solves most problems, often in a surprisingly novel way”.


Pernicious Anemia Liver Extract Pure Research Medical Meeting Medical Goal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl Folkers
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Biomedical ResearchThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations