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July 22, 1950


JAMA. 1950;143(12):1071-1072. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02910470031013

The term "protein" was introduced into the scientific literature by the Dutch agricultural chemist Mulder in 1838. According to Sir Harold Hartley, as quoted by Vickery,1 the term was suggested to Mulder by the Swedish chemist Berzelius. The word "protein" was derived from the Greek proteios, meaning of the first rank or position. "It appears to be," wrote Berzelius, "the primary or principal element in the animal nutrition which the plants prepare for the herbivora and which the latter in their turn furnish to the carnivora." Of the three principal organic constituents of living matter, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, the proteins are the most important, because of multiplicity of their biologic functions. The proteins represent nearly one half of the body's dry matter. Fruton2 points out in a recent review that the structure and functions of the proteins constitute the fundamental problems of biochemistry.

All proteins are made