Michael Somogyi

Born 1883
Died 1971

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Hungarian-American biochemist, born March 7, 1883, Zsámánd, Hungary (now Reinersdorf, Austria); died 1971.

Biography of Michael Somogyi

Michael Somogyi was born in the Hungarian village Zsámánd, in what was then the Empire of Austria-Hungary. This region of Hungary, known in German as the Burgenland, was given to Austria after World War I without plebiscite. The name of the village is now Reinersdorf.

Somogyi graduated in chemistry from the University of Budapest in 1905 and then went to America. At first he had trouble finding suitable work, but eventually he obtained a position as assistant of biochemistry at the Cornell University Medical College, New York:, where he was active until 1908. That year Somogyi returned to Budapest to become chief chemist at the municipal laboratory. He obtained a doctorate from the University of Budapest in 1914.

graduated in chemistry from the University of Budapest in 1905 and then went to America. At first he had trouble finding suitable work, but eventually he obtained a position as assistant of biochemistry at the Cornell University Medical College, New York:, where he was active until 1908. That year Somogyi returned to Budapest to become chief chemist at the municipal laboratory. He obtained a doctorate from the University of Budapest in 1914.

In 1922 his colleague, P. A. Schaffer at the Cornell University, persuaded him to return to the USA to become teacher of biochemistry at the Washington University's medical school in St. Louis. In 1926 he became first chemist at the Jewish Hospital, St. Louis.

In 1926, his first year working as a clinical chemist in St. Louis, he introduced a method for determining reducing sugars in human blood. He took a special interest in diabetic patients and in 1938, at a meeting of the medical society in St. Louis to the theme of “unstable, severe diabetic patients”, Somogyi first presented his theory that insulin treatment in itself might cause unstable diabetes. In 1940 he developed a method for the determination of serum amylase in healthy and diabetic individuals. He is also credited with devising a test for acute pancreatitis.

Somogyi was active at the Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, until his retirement in 1957. He died from a stroke on July 21, 1971.

The first insulin treatment of a child with diabetes in the USA, in October 1922, was done with a preparation of insulin produced by Somogyi.

    “Overtreatment with insulin makes unstable diabetes”.
    Michael Somogyi

    "The incidence of diabetes has increased proportionately with the per capita consumption of sugar."
    (Frederick Grant Banting, Strength and Health Magazine, 1972.)

We thank Bryan Dawson for information submitted.

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