- Lafayette Mendel
name = Lafayette Mendel
birth_date = birth date|1872|2|5|mf=y
birth_place = Delhi, New York, U.S.
death_date = death date and age|1935|12|9|1872|2|5|mf=y
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Russell Henry Chittenden
prizes = National Academy of Sciences
Gold medal of the American Institute of Chemists
Conné Medal of the Chemist's Club of New York
Lafayette Benedict Mendel (
February 5, 1872– December 9, 1935) was an American biochemistknown for his work in nutritionincluding the study of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, lysineand tryptophan.
Mendel was born in Delhi, New York, son of Benedict Mendel, a merchant born in
Aufhausen, Germanyin 1833, and Pauline Ullman, born in Eschenau, Germany. His father immigrated to the United Statesfrom Germanyin 1851, his mother in 1870. [http://www.bookrags.com/biography/lafayette-benedict-mendel-wob/ "Lafayette Benedict Mendel."] World of Biology. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006.]
At 15, he won a New York State scholarship. Mendel studied classics, economics and the humanities, as well as biology and chemistry at
Yale Universityand graduated with honors in 1891. [Arthur H. Smith, "Lafayette B. Mendel, Companion in Research", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 12(4):261-263.]
He then began graduate work at the
Sheffield Scientific Schoolon a fellowship and studied physiological chemistryunder Russell Henry Chittenden. He finished his Ph.D.1893 after only two years; his thesis topic was the synthesis of hemp-derived protein. Upon graduation, he began as an assistant at the Sheffield School in Physiological chemistry. He also studied in Germanyand was made an assistant professor on his return in 1896. He became a full professor in 1903 with appointments in the Yale School of Medicineand the Yale Graduate Schoolas well as Sheffield.
Mendel wrote over 100 papers with his longtime collaborator Thomas B. Osborne of the
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station(Mendel also had an appointment at the Station). In their early work, they studied the deadly poison ricinalbumin from castor beans.
Their most important work involved the use of carefully controlled studies on
ratsto study the necessary elements in a healthy diet. They discovered Vitamin Ain 1913 in butter fat (independently discovered by Elmer McCollum), as well as water soluble vitamin Bin milk. They showed, for example, that a lack of Vitamin A in the diet led to xerophthalmia.They also established the importance of lysineand tryptophanin a healthy diet."Lafayette Benedict Mendel."Dictionary of American Biography, Supplements 1-2: To 1940. American Council of Learned Societies, 1944-1958. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007. ]
Mendel wrote many articles and published "Changes in the Food Supply and Their Relation to Nutrition" (1916) and "Nutrition, the Chemistry of Life" (1923).
Mendel received many honors during his career. He was made
Sterling Professorat Yale in 1921. He was the first president of the American Institute of Nutrition. He was made a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1913. He won the gold medal of the American Institute of Chemists "for his outstanding contributions to chemistry" in 1927. He won the Conné Medal of the Chemist's Club of New York "for his outstanding chemical contributions to medicine" in 1935.
Mendel married Alice R. Friend on July 29, 1917; they had no children. He died in 1935 of a heart condition after a long illness. His house in
New Havenis National Historic Landmark.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.