George Richards Minot was born on December 2, 1885, at Boston, Massachusetts,
U.S.A. His ancestor, George Minot, had migrated to America in 1630, from
Saffron Walden, England. His father, James Jackson Minot, was a physician,
and his mother was Elizabeth Whitney.
In his youth Minot was interested in butterflies and moths, and he published
two articles on butterflies. He went to Harvard University and there took his
A.B. degree in 1908, his M.D. in 1912, and gained an honorary degree of
Sc.D. in 1928.
He did his hospital training at the Massachusetts General Hospital and then
worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Medical School, under W. S. Thayer and
W. H. Howell.
In 1915 he was appointed Assistant in Medicine at the Harvard Medical School
and the Massachusetts General Hospital and was later appointed to a more
senior post there.
In 1922 he became Physician-in-Chief of the Collis P. Huntington Memorial
Hospital of Harvard University, and later was appointed to the Staff of the
Peter Bent Brigham Hospital
In 1928 he was elected Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and
Director of the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory and Visiting Physician to the
Boston City Hospital
Minot early became, when he was a medical student, interested in the disorders
of the blood with which his name is associated and he published during his
life many papers on this and other subjects. Arthritis, cancer, dietary
deficiencies, the part played by diet (vitamin B deficiency) in the production
of so-called alcoholic polyneuritis and the social aspects of disease were
among the subjects of his papers. Further he studied the coagulation of the
blood, blood transfusion, the blood platelets and the reticulocytes as well as
certain blood disorders, and he described an atypical familial haemorrhagic
condition associated with prolonged anaemia. He also studied the condition of
the blood in certain cases of industrial poisoning.
Among his other interests were leucaemia, disorders of the lymphatic tissues
and polycythaemia, but his most important contributions to knowledge were made
in his studies of anaemia. His name will always be associated with the
therapy of pernicious anaemia, in which he first became interested in 1914,
but it was not until later that he, like William P. Murphy, became impressed
by the work of George Hoyt Whipple on the treatment of experimental forms of
anaemia in dogs, and in 1926 he and Murphy described the effective treatment
of pernicious anaemia by means of liver. For this work he and Murphy and
Whipple were awarded, in 1934, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
Subsequently, Minot, in collaboration with Edwin J. Cohn, extended this work
by showing the efficacy of certain fractions of liver substance and he
demonstrated the value of reticulocyte reactions in the evaluation of
therapeutic procedures. He also added to knowledge of gastro-intestinal
functions and of iron therapy for anaemia, and to knowledge of other aspects
of this group of diseases.
Minot was member or fellow of numerous medical and allied organizations in his
own country and abroad, and served as Editor of several medical publications.
Among the many honours and distinctions he received, may be mentioned: the
Cameron Prize in Practical Therapeutics of the University of Edinburgh, in
1930 (jointly with W. P. Murphy), the Popular Science Monthly Gold Medal and
Annual Award for 1930 (jointly with G. H. Whipple), and the John Scott Medal
of the City of Philadelphia.
On June 29, 1915, Minot married Marian Linzee Weld; there were two daughters
and one son by this marriage.
After a long and busy life, during which he made many important contributions
to medical knowledge, especially to that of diseases of the blood, Minot died,
full of honours, in 1950.
From Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1922-1941.