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An American Physiologist Abroad - continued...

2. The Carnegie Nutrition Laboratory

In 1902, steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie established a foundation to address what he perceived as a deficit in American basic research productivity. One of the areas that the Carnegie Institution of Washington decided to support was research into human nutrition. The CIW intended to appoint Wilbur Olin Atwater, who was America’s leading nutrition scientist, a former student of Voit, and constructor of the first respiration calorimeter for humans, as director of its nutrition laboratory. When Atwater became severely ill, they appointed his assistant, Francis Gano Benedict, in his place.

Dr. Benedict at
Dr. Benedict holding a lecture at the Rudolf-Virchov-Clinic, Berlin 1932

Throughout 1906, Benedict negotiated with the Carnegie Institution and looked for an appropriate site for his lab. He finally decided on Boston, where he had the Carnegie Institution purchase property adjacent to Harvard Medical School. The climate in Boston was well-suited for metabolism experiments and through the proximity to Harvard he hoped not only to share some of the medical school’s infrastructure such as heating and electrical systems and libraries, but also for a steady supply of clinical subjects for his experiments as well as an abundance of medical students keen to participate as experimenters and as experimental subjects. Benedict was officially appointed director in 1907.

Reference: Elizabeth Neswald. 2010. An American Physiologist Abroad: Francis Gano Benedict’s European Tours. The Virtual Laboratory (ISSN 1866-4784),