- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Harry Eagle

Born  1905
Died  1992

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U.S. pathologist and cell biologist, born 1905, New York; died June 12, 1992.

Biography of Harry Eagle

Harry Eagle grew up in Baltimore and graduated M.D. from Johns Hopkins University Medical School in 1927. He remained at Johns Hopkins for the next twenty years as director of its Venereal Disease Research Laboratory and Laboratory of Experimental Therapeutics. During World War II he entered the U.S. Public Health Service, and in 1947 he joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH), holding positions as scientific director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), then as Chief of the Experimental Therapeutics section of the National Microbiological Institute, and later as chief of the Cell Biology Laboratory of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases (NIAID).

In 1961 he joined the Albert Einstein College of Medicine as the founding Chairman of the Department of Cell Biology. He was later founding Director of its Cancer Research Center in which he remained active until last year.

Eagle's early career was devoted to immunological approaches to the diagnosis of syphilis, and in the late 1930's he studied the mechanism of blood coagulation and proposed the enzymatic basis for the clotting mechanism.

Harry Eagle is now particularly remembered for work he began in 1955 to establish the compounds necessary to support the growth of cells in tissue culture. The culture media required for the propagation of animal cells are much more complex than the minimal media sufficient to support the growth of bacteria and yeasts. One result of his research became known as Eagle's medium, which opened the way to the last three decades of extraordinary research on the biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics of normal and malignant mammalian cells.

He was president of the American Society of Microbiology in 1958. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Science, the country's highest scientific honour.


  • A method for the titration of complement.
    The Journal of General Physiology, New York, 1929, 12: 821-823.
  • The mechanism of complement fixation.
    The Journal of General Physiology, 1929, 12: 825-844.
  • Mechanism of hemolysis by complement: I. Complement fixation as an essential preliminary to hemolysis. With George Brewer.
    The Journal of General Physiology, 1929, 12: 845-862.
  • Studies in the serology of syphilis. VII. A new flocculation test for serum diagnosis of syphilis.
    The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, St. Louis, 1932, 17: 787-791.
  • Studies on blood coagulation: III. On the constancy of the hydrogen ion concentration during the coagulation of fibrinogen by thrombin.
    With J. P. Baumberger.
    The Journal of General Physiology, 1935, 18: 809-812.
  • Studies on blood coagulation: IV. The nature of the clotting deficiency in hemophilia. The Journal of General Physiology, 1935, 18: 813-819.
  • Nutrition Needs of Mammalian Cells in Tissue Culture.
    Science, September 16, 1955, 122 (3168): 501–504.
  • Effect of Environmental pH on the Efficiency of Cellular Hybridization.
    By Carlo M. Croce, Hilary Koprowski, and Harry Eagle.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 1972, 69: 1953-1956. Biographical
  • Barry G. Firkin and Judith A. Whitworth:
    Dictionary of Medical Eponyms.
    The Parthenon Publishing Group. 1989. New edition in 2002.
  • Jonathan R. Warner:
    In Memoriam – Harry Eagle.
    On the webiste of the Albert Einstein University, New York.
  • James Dewey Watson (born 1928):
    Tribute to the Memory of Dr. Harry Eagle (1945-1992).
    The Einstein Quarterly, 1992, 10 (2): 66-67.
    In 1953, James D. Watson and Francis Crick determined the structure of the molecule deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), of which all living matter is made.
  • James E. Darnell, Leon Levintow, Matthew D. Scharef:
    A brief chronicle on Harry Eagle.
    Journal of Cellular Physiology, February 4, 2005, 76 (3): 241-252.

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