Benedict Francis Gano 18701957

At age thirteen, Benedict's interest in chemistry was sparked by attending a lecture in Boston by chemist and assayer James Francis Babcock (1844-94) who wrote widely on the hygiene and chemistry of food. While studying at Harvard, he took courses from chemist Josiah Parsons Cooke (1827-94), who in 1850, founded the Harvard Chemistry Department. After completing his graduate study at Heidelberg University in Germany,

Benedict returned to the U.S.A. to work with Wilbur Olin Atwater. Following on his work with Atwater in chemistry and nutrition, Benedict soon became involved with physiology. The two scientists began studies of metabolism in humans, by means of a respiration calorimeter, a piece of equipment created by Benedict to measure oxygen consumption and heat in the body. The machine was able to provide exact measurements of heat production and loss in animals and humans.

Benedict published his results in his An Experimental Inquiry Regarding the Nutritive Value of Alcohol. In i907, after the publishing of his findings, Benedict was appointed Director of the newly established Carnegie Nutrition Laboratory in Boston, Massachusetts. At the laboratory, Benedict developed new equipment, which including a smaller instrument for measuring oxygen consumption in humans. Using the machine, Benedict, and fellow colleagues, studied the production of heat, changing the conditions of working, exercising, and eating or fasting on his subjects. From his studies, he determined a basal metabolism in humans, then wrote (with James Arthur Harris [1880-1930]) A Biometric Study of Basal Metabolism in Man (1919), which remains a classic in the field. Benedict's studies on metabolism extended to animals as well as humans. The equipment that Benedict developed as well as his research on basal metabolism in humans became standards in the medical profession and enabled future work in the field.

SLG/Laura K. Goldstein

See also Atwater; Metabolism

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