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Edward Calvin Kendall

        Science | American Biologists

Kendall, Edward Calvin (1886–1972), was an American biochemist and endocrinologist who studied the structure and effects of hormones in the thyroid and adrenal glands. In 1950, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for this work, along with Philip Showalter Hench and Tadeus Reichstein.

Kendall was born in South Norwalk, Connecticut, and attended Columbia University in New York. He received his bachelor's degree in 1908, his master's degree in 1909, and his doctorate in 1910.

After early research positions in Detroit and New York's St. Luke's Hospital, Kendall found his place at the Mayo Foundation (a part of the University of Minnesota) in Rochester, Minnesota, where he focused his research first on the thyroid gland. In December 1914, he achieved a breakthrough discovery when he isolated the thyroid hormone, later named thyroxine. When thyroxine was successfully synthesized, more than a decade later, it became an effective treatment for thyroid deficiencies.

Kendall next turned to studying the hormones of the adrenal cortex. Though it had been believed that the adrenals secreted only one hormone, in 1939 Kendall proved that there were actually several. He spent the next decade researching these hormones, particularly one he initially called Compound E. By 1949, Kendall had proved the hormone effective in relieving rheumatoid arthritis. The following year, with his research colleague Philip S. Hench, he received the Nobel Prize in honor of this work. Compound E was eventually synthesized. Under the names cortisone and hydrocortisone, it also began to be used successfully in treating Addison's disease and some skin, eye, and intestinal disorders.

Kendall retired in 1951 and thereafter became a visiting professor at Princeton University, where he continued his research on the adrenal cortex throughout the rest of his life.


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