International Year of Chemistry, 2011

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History of Clinical Chemistry

Activity by Sheehan Misko   |   added on Mar 10, 2011   |   United States Official_iyc_logo

Sponsor(s): Clincial Chemistry (

John Savory and Larry Kricka, professors at the Univ. of Virginia and the Univ. of Pennsylvania, respectively, who will recount the story of clinical chemistry, which spans from before 400 BC.

Clinical Chemistry, November 2011


John Savory and Larry Kricka, professors at the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively, will recount the story of clinical chemistry, which spans from before 400 BC, when the Greeks diagnosed "boils" by determining whether the urine attracted insects, to the era of genomics, proteomics, and personalized medicine. Clinical chemistry was not always readily embraced in the medical community. Robert James Graves (1796–1853), the famous Dublin clinician, once remarked, "few and scanty, indeed, are the rays of light which chemistry has flung on the vital mysteries." Pioneers such as Johann Joseph Scherer (1814–1869), who first used the term "clinical chemical laboratory" ("klinisch-chemischen Laboratorium"), and Max Josef von Pettenkofer (1818–1901) both often complained that clinicians do not use their chemistry laboratory services except when needed for "luxurious embellishment for a clinical lecture," as the latter once remarked. The practice of clinical chemistry, however, continued over the decades and became an integral and essential component of medical care delivery. The utility of laboratory testing has increased dramatically throughout history, as indicated by the growth in the number of tests performed. Although Baron Justus von Liebig (1803–1873) boasted that his laboratory performed more than 400 tests per annum, the average mid- to large-sized American laboratory today performs several million tests yearly.

Topic: celebrating chemistry, networking, conferences, chemistry education, chemistry, analytical chemistry, publications, biotechnology, industrial trade fair, references Audience: students, professional chemists, professors, educators, general public, industrial chemists, universities, post graduate students, teachers, research scientists, women chemists, decision makers, educational institutions, graduate students
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