Geiling, E. M. K. (Eugene Maximilian Karl), 1891-

Alternative names
Birth 1891

Biographical notes:

Eugene M.K. Geiling was born in the Orange Free State of South Africa on May 13, 1891 to Alexander W.H. Geiling and Theresa (Keller) Geiling. He received his B.A. from the University of South Africa in 1911. In 1914, he came to the U.S. as a fellow of the Union of the South African Government to study at the University of Illinois in the Department of Animal Husbandry and Nutrition, where he received an M.S. in 1915 and a Ph.D. in 1917 in physiological chemistry. He then returned to South Africa where he first became a lecturer in agricultural chemistry and nutrition at the Popchefstron Agricultural College and then in physiological chemistry at the College of Medicine in the University of Cape Town.

He returned to the U.S. in 1920 when he was awarded a Seesel Research Fellowship at Yale University. In 1921, he became a research assistant in the Department of Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University, where also received his M.D. in 1923. He later became an associate professor and began to work under Dr. John Abel, who would become a close friend. Together they discovered the crystallization of insulin and the physiological effects of insulin. His later work centered around the pituitary gland and its pharmacology and anatomy, especially in that of whales.

In 1936, Geiling became the first Professor and Chairman for the newly established Department of Pharmacology at the University of Chicago .At the University of Chicago he continued his work on the pituitary gland, showing that the oxytocic, pressor and anti-diuretic hormones originated in the neural lobe of the pituitary gland and not by the intermediary lobe as previously thought.

Prior to the U.S. entering into World War II, the National Defense Research Committee asked the University of Chicago to set up a facility capable of evaluating the toxicity of chemical agents in an effort to avoid the neurological damage inflicted by the chemical warfare in World War I. When the Toxicity Laboratory was established by the University of Chicago’s Department of Pharmacology, Dr. Geiling was named the principle investigator. During the war, Geiling and his staff of 60 investigators studied the toxicity of more than 2,000 potential chemical warfare agents.

Following the war, Dr. Geiling turned his attention to a developing field, that of “isotope farming.” He developed the radioactive CO2 atmospheric technique and reported the production of radioactive digitalis to the International Congress of Cardiology in 1947. This was followed by a series of other radioactive organic drugs, which he discovered with Dr. Lloyd Roth, who was later to succeed him as the Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology.

When Geiling left the University of Chicago in 1956, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he served as a consultant to the United States Food and Drug Administration and was also a member of the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry of the American Medical Association. Throughout the later part of his life he was a member of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physiological Society, the American Society of Biological Chemistry, the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, and the German Pharmacological Society.

Among the awards Geiling received for his work were the Mendel Medal from Villanova College in 1942 and the Oscar B. Hunter Memorial Award of the American Therapeutic Society in 1956. Geiling died on January 12, 1971 at the age of 79.

From the guide to the Geiling, Eugene M. K. Papers, 1891-1978, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Biographical notes are generated from the bibliographic and archival source records supplied by data contributors.


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