OBITUARY NOTICES. HARRY ARTHUR ASHWELL AITKEN. (1905-1934.) HARRY ARTHUR ASHWELL AITKEN was born at Dunedin, New Zealand, on November 30th, 1905. He studied at Otago University 1924-7 and graduated M.Sc. with honours in Chemistry. After holding a post-graduate bursary and working on the essential oils of Podocarpua species [J. Soc. Chem. Ind. 1929,48, 344 T.], he obtained in 1929 a National Research scholarship of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research; during its tenure he investigated the sulphur in organic and inorganic combination in pasture grasses [Biochem. J. 1930, 24, 250]. From 1930 to 1932 he was chemist to the Goitre and Cancer Research Department of the Otago University Medical School and with C. E. Hercus and others published papers on iodine in goitre [J. Hyg. 1931, 31, 493; 1933, 33, 55], a paper with A. M. Begg on tumour regression [Brit. J. Exp. Path. 1932, 13, 479] and by himself papers on a continuous dialyser [J. Biol. Chem. 1931, 90, 161] and on the determination of iodine in blood [Biochem. J. 1930, 24, 1456; 1931, 25, 446] and butter [J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 1932, 54, 3268]. In 1933 Aitken was granted a University Free Passage for research in this country, where he at first continued his work on sulphur in grasses in the laboratory of Prof. G. Barger and then migrated to London to take the Institute of Chemistry Fellowship examination, which he passed. Unfortunately application to study had undermined a somewhat delicate constitution, leading to an illness from which he died in London on March 23rd, 1934. Aitken was of a shy and retiring disposition and hardly became known to British biochemists, as he deserved to be. G. B. VICTOR JOHN HARDING. (1885-1934.) PROF. VICTOR JOHN HARDING was appointed to the Chair of Pathological Chemistry in the University of Toronto in 1920, and occupied that position with distinction until his untimely death in 1934. For many years his energy and tireless enthusiasm in laboratory and class-room were an example to his colleagues and students, and it was no less a loss to them than a blow to himself when a severe attack of coronary thrombosis in the summer of 1930 forced him to retire for a considerable time from active work. It was during the subsequent four years until his death that Harding's courageous determination to continue, in the face of what he realised was a losing fight, demonstrated the real force of his character. During this period his interest never wavered. Whether during the long periods of confinement when he could not leave his home, or during the short periods when he was able to come for a few hours daily to his office before another attack forced him to his bed, his lively interest in the problems of investigation in his own laboratory and in those of related depart- ments was a constant inspiration to the many who went to him for consultation and advice. His death on the morning of July 3rd removed a pioneer figure in Biochem. 1935 XXIX 1 2 OBITUARY NOTICES Canadian biochemistry, whose work in clinical medicine as well as in the more academic aspects of pathological chemistry has laid foundations on which much that may come after will be built. Victor John Harding was born at Bury, Lancashire, in 1885, where he was educated at the Grammar School. He matriculated at Owens College and took the honours course in Chemistry at Manchester. On receiving his B.Sc. degree in 1906 he was awarded a graduate scholarship and the Leblanc Medal (Techno- logical Chemistry). Two years later he obtained the M.Sc. and demonstrated at Owens College in the department of W. H. Perkin from 1908-10, while he carried on research in organic (terpene) chemistry. In the summer of 1910, Prof. J. W. Walker, of McGill, induced him to go to Canada. In 1911 he was appointed lecturer in Biological Chemistry. The following year he returned to England to obtain his D.Sc. (Manchester), and was for a short time at the Lister Institute, where he did a research in the laboratory of Prof. A. Harden on the action of enzymes on hexosephosphates. In 1913 he became assistant professor at McGill and in 1917 associate professor, with Dr R. F. Ruttan as head of the department. Harding's ability as an organic chemist was early recognised at McGill. He was given charge of several courses in organic chemistry in addition to those in physiological chemistry. His interest in research at this time was illustrated by the fact that he offered an optional course to medical students who had com- pleted the regular work creditably. In this he discussed research topics which particularly interested him and definitely indicated his growing interest in the field of pathological metabolism. In 1910 Harding published with C. Weizmann his first study on the substi- tution of nitro-groupings for acetyl in aromatic compounds (methoxyaceto- phenones), converting 4:5-dimethoxy-o-tolylmethylketone into 4-nitrohomo- catechol dimethyl ether. He extended the study to gallic acid trimethyl ether and pyrogallolcarboxylic acid trimethyl ether in terms of carboxyl-nitro-substi- tution, arriving at the conclusion that substitution was a direct action, taking place only when the carboxyl radical was in an active position in the parent phenol ether. Extension of this work in terms of acetyl-nitro-substitutions to a variety of methoxyacetophenones represented his early McGill period. He published two shorter papers in 1912, one on the preparation of hydroxyl and methyl derivatives of adipic acid and another with Ruttan on the optimum conditions of the Rothera reaction for acetone and diacetic acid. Previous work at Manchester had interested him in amino-acids and he began in 1914 a study of the ninhydrin reaction. With several assistants he published five papers between 1915 and 1917. In these he developed a colori- metric method of estimating a.-amino-groupings comparable in accuracy with the Van Slyke micro-gasometric method and showed that it could be applied to the study of protein hydrolysis. Possible errors in this method led him to study the specificity of the reaction and the conditions under which it was given by ammonium salts and amines. He has offered an explanation of the reaction with amino-acids on the basis of the formation of the corresponding glyoxal and ammonia which then reacts with the triketohydrindene hydrate. At this time he was interested in the metabolic problem presented by the early toxaemias of pregnancy. In 1918 he published a paper with J. W. Duncan on a suggested carbohydrate treatment based on some evidence of their being a starvation phenomenon. He also became interested in the placenta and with Fort showed the combined protein fraction to be high in arginine. The ready digestibility of this protein both in vivo by the dog and in vitro was next demon- strated [Harding and E. G. Young, 1918]. The influence of the protein on purine OBITUARY NOTICES 3 metabolism in the growing dog was studied conjointly with the influence of high and low protein diets on creatine-creatinine output. This was the beginning of his extended interest in creatine metabolism which was continued during his early Toronto period. Working in close co-operation with the departments of Obstetrics and Gynae- cology of McGill University and after 1921 with that of Toronto University, Harding reported a long and important series of investigations which will always remain an essential contribution to obstetrical knowledge. Shortly after his arrival in Toronto he published "Further observations on the use of carbo- hydrates in the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy." This paper, with the preceding one on the same subject, established the now widespread use of glucose therapy in hyperemesis gravidarum. In addition it gave a new point of view inasmuch as the theory of carbohydrate deficiency stressed the essential common metabolic basis of all degrees of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. The direct result of Harding's teaching was the application of the new principles not only to hyperemesis but also to the milder cases. These two papers were followed by studies in ketogenesis in pregnancy, and when it was seen that the carbohydrate deficiency hypothesis could not be established as the primary aetiological factor in the disease, Harding directed his efforts to the elucidation of the dehydration factor in hyperemesis. The resulting studies proved as valuable to the development of rational therapy as had the research on the effects of carbohydrates. It was natural that the problem of the later toxaemias should attract an investigator who had already made such progress in the problem of pregnancy nausea. An exhaustive research into the blood non-protein nitrogen of pre- eclampsia, which gave inconclusive results, was followed by a series of experi- mental clinical studies undertaken to test the effect of diet in pre-eclampsia. From these Harding was able to conclude that the usually considered factors of protein, fat and carbohydrate were of no importance in the production and treatment of the disease; but, in contrast, sodium chloride was a dietetic factor of prime significance. This conclusion led him to reconsider the Zangmeister theory of the cause of eclampsia and led to the work published in two im- portant papers "The effects of hypertonic saline in the toxaemias of pregnancy" (1930) and "Researches in the toxaemias of later pregnancy" (1932). These two papers, in addition to reporting a clinical experiment which promises to be a classic, brought convincing evidence that the Zangmeister theory, even if not portraying the whole aetiology of eclamptic toxaemia, accounts more completely for the mystery of "the disease of theories" than any hitherto available. Harding's researches in pregnancy metabolism have not only stimulated research but also have had a very tangible influence in rationalising therapy, and the obstetrical textbooks of to-day bear abundant testimony to his influence. Of late years Harding had turned his attention to problems of carbohydrate metabolism, making valuable contributions in the field of galactose metabolism and to the problems of the benign glucosurias. His latest work was an attempt to ascertain the nature of the reducing sugars in normal urine. It was in con- nection with this problem that he devised a scheme for using micro-organisms in quantitative differential sugar analysis. Prof. Harding was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a member of the Chemical Society, the Biochemical Society, the American Society of Biological Chemists and the Canadian Medical Association. He was an associate Fellow of the Academy of Medicine of Toronto and an honorary member of the American Urological Association. His pioneer spirit had much to do with 1-2 4 OBITUARY NOTICES stimulating the organisation of biological chemistry in Canada; he was one of the original movers in the creation of a biochemical section of the Canadian Chemical Association and was the first president of the Toronto Biochemical Society. Victor John Harding was a true humanitarian as well as being an eminent scientist. Sincerity, charity and modesty were embodied in his character, the essential earnestness of which was tinged by a quiet humour. His interest in the Savoy operas led him to offer a yearly prize for the best parody on a selection from Gilbert and Sullivan, to be published in Epistaxis-the annual humorous publication of the Students' Medical Society. A strain of compassion was seen in him by those with whom he co-operated in clinical study. His contacts with humanity in the hospital wards were not merely a stimulus to his investi- gative mind, but an adventure in sympathy. The possession of a mind both inquisitive and humane formed a character of great gentleness and great strength. In 1914 Prof. Harding married Mary Marshall, daughter of Captain Archibald Browning Smith, Liverpool. He is survived by his widow and a son and daughter. E. J. K.
Pages to are hidden for
"OBITUARY NOTICES"Please download to view full document