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Oscar Riddle

Born: 27-Sep-1877
Birthplace: Cincinnati, OH
Died: 29-Nov-1968
Location of death: Plant City, FL
Cause of death: Cancer - Prostate
Remains: Buried, Grandview Cemetery, Bloomfield, IN

Gender: Male
Religion: Atheist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Biologist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Prolactin

Military service: New York Nat'l Guard (1916-18), US Army (1918-20)

Biologist Oscar Riddle was a mid-20th Century expert on the pituitary and its functions, best known for his research into the major pituitary hormone prolactin. Riddle studied under Jacques Loeb, and he and his colleagues were the first scientists to isolate prolactin, named by Riddle in 1932. In studies of its physiological effects Riddle discovered that the injection of prolactin inhibits gonadal growth in the males of many species, and produces maternal behavior in females. His work showed that prolactin and other front-lobe hormones are disintegrated by the enzyme trypsin, and established that growth is a synergic response to two hormones, thyrotropin and prolactin.

Profoundly unreligious, Riddle garnered national attention for a 1936 speech debunking superstition, delivered to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and covered in the New York Times and serialized in the journal Science. He often chided high school biology teachers and textbooks for "pussyfooting" around the teaching of evolution, which, he argued, left students "robbed of a biological outlook" and at a grave disadvantage for future scientific pursuits.

Father: Jonathan Riddle, Jr. (farmer & horse breeder, b. 1827, d. 1882)
Mother: Amanda Emeline Carmichael Riddle (b. 1837)
Brother: Daniel Riddle (b. 10-Oct-1862, d. 25-Feb-1922)
Sister: Sarah Riddle Fry (b. 1864)
Brother: Seymour Riddle (b. 1-Sep-1868, d. 10-Jun-1944)
Brother: Jasper Riddle (b. 1871)
Brother: Johnathan Riddle III (b. 16-Sep-1872)
Brother: Milford Riddle (b. 1876)
Sister: Ida Riddle Mitchell (b. 15-Mar-1880, d. 1967)
Sister: Bertha Riddle Weisman (b. 27-Jun-1882)
Wife: Leona Lewis (music teacher, m. 1937, no children)

    High School: Bloomfield High School, Bloomfield, IN (1896)
    University: BS Biology, Indiana University (1902)
    University: PhD Zoology, University of Chicago (1907)
    Scholar: Zoology, University of Chicago (1904-11)
    Scholar: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (1903-68)
    Teacher: Physiology, Central High School, St. Louis, MO (1903-06)
    Scholar: Zoology, Indiana University (1904)
    Scholar: Biochemistry, University of Chicago (1911-12)

    Humanist of the Year 1958
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Humanist Association
    American Philosophical Society
    National Academy of Sciences 1939
    Carnegie Institution for Science Researcher (1913-61)
    English Ancestry (paternal)
    Irish Ancestry (maternal)
    Irish Ancestry (maternal)
    Risk Factors: Smoking

Appears on the cover of:
Time, 9-Jan-1939, DETAILS: "Oscar Riddle - Pituitary Master"

Author of books:
The Unleashing of Evolutionary Thought (1952)
Endocrines and Constitution in Doves and Pigeons (1947)


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