So who was Albert Szent-Gyorgyi and why is Google recognizing his birthday today? He was arguably one of the most creative and important developers of biological chemisty in our era. His span of influence on what we think about life and health was tremendous. Not only a Nobel Prize winner in physiology and medicine, but for most of us the discoverer of the anti-scurvy factor in foods that he termed "a-scorbutic acid" or ascorbic acid or in common terms, vitamin C. He recognized that what Captain James Cook had employed from the discoveries of his friend and Scottish Naval physician Robert Lind in the 18th century on the prevention of the most dreaded ship board disease scurvy occurred when certain foods were included in the diet of sailors. And so the "limey' was born in the British Naval tradition for their ration of citrus. It was Szent-Gyorgyi that identifed the chemical principle in foods that prevented scurvy, vitamin C, in the 20th century. Beyond this Szent-Gyorgyi created the sense that biochemistry had value in the understanding of the origin of disease and how nutrition could be a field of clinical biochemistry that could be employed to prevent and treat chronic disease.
In a sense Szent-Gyorgyi, Linus Pauling and Roger Williams gave birth to the field of "molecular medicine", molecular nutrition, and "nutrigenomics" from which the new medicine of the 21st century is being born where nutrition and nutrient therapy will play an ever increasing role in improving patient outcome with chronic diseases.
Happy birthday Dr. Szent-Gyorgyi