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March 17, 1962

MEDICINE'S DEBT TO 19TH CENTURY CHEMISTRY

JAMA. 1962;179(11):894-895. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050110062018
Abstract

One of the best examples of medicine's debt to chemistry is the compendium of contributions by Justus von Liebig (1803-1873). At the end of the 18th century and into the early part of the following century, chemistry in Germany was a poor second to other countries in Europe. Berzelius in Stockholm and Gay-Lussac in Paris were not then threatened by scientific competition in Germany, a country destined to lead in chemistry a generation later. One of the first of many brilliant chemists in this new era was Liebig of Darmstadt.1 Early in life he displayed a great fondness for chemistry. Justus' father, a dealer in drugs and dyes, could not provide his son with the then current beneficent educational training beyond the Gymnasium. Any deficiency in his early education, however, proved no serious handicap to a remarkable career in agricultural chemistry, organic chemistry, and physiological chemistry. By his 14th

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