Thursday April 18, 2024

Casimir Funk: Who is biochemist celebrated in today's Google Doodle?

Casimir Funk is being honoured by Google Doodle for his remarkable discoveries

By Web Desk
February 23, 2024
A file photo was Polish-American biochemist Casimir Funk. — Alamy
A file photo was Polish-American biochemist Casimir Funk. — Alamy

Google's doodle of the day honours Casimir Funk on this day, February 23, which would have been his 140th birthday.

In 1912, Polish-American biochemist Casimir Funk found that a number of illnesses, including rickets and scurvy, were brought on by a diet deficient in certain food ingredients. He called these necessary elements "vitamine".

This discovery solidified Funk's reputation as the "father of the vitamin" and established the idea that vitamins are necessary for human health. Subsequent research over the next 50 years included contributions to 30 reviews and articles, 140 technical papers, and other works.

In less than 35 years, thanks to his work, 13 vitamins — including all the vitamins we know today — were discovered. These discoveries changed the course of biochemistry and nutrition forever and saved countless lives.

Funk travelled between Europe and the United States during the ensuing years, all the while the global wars were raging. Over time, further researchers discovered that Funk's original hypotheses weren't entirely accurate, according to Live Science.

 A vitamin is not always an amine: For example, vitamin D is a steroid hormone that is synthesised in the skin in reaction to exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This is why the term "vitamin" as we know it today was created by removing the "e" from the original "vitamine" moniker. 

As Funk initially suggested, vitamins don't necessarily only have an impact on a single illness. Lack of vitamin D is linked to a number of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and bone metabolic abnormalities. And this example is true for other vitamins as well.