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Charles B. Huggins

Charles B. HugginsAKA Charles Brenton Huggins

Born: 22-Sep-1901
Birthplace: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Died: 12-Jan-1997
Location of death: Chicago, IL
Cause of death: Illness

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist, Doctor

Nationality: Canada
Executive summary: Hormonal treatment of prostate and breast cancers

Dr Charles B. Huggins had just finished his internship as a medical doctor, and had never performed any medical research when he came to the University of Chicago. Assigned to work as a urology surgeon, he purchased a urology textbook and read it several times, virtually memorizing the book in about three weeks' time before starting his new job. Although he was a capable surgeon, he was far more capable at research, and eventually came to devote all his time to the laboratory.

Huggins was awarded the 1966 Nobel Prize for Medicine, shared with Peyton Rous, for his research showing the relationship between certain hormones and certain cancers. In his most important research, he proved that administration of the female hormone estrogen slowed the growth of prostate cancer in males. Hormone therapy, also called androgen ablation, is now a common treatment for prostate cancer, and he also recommended "the Huggins operation" -- castration -- for particularly advanced cases. In separate research, he showed that some breast cancers can be slowed by removing the ovaries and adrenal glands, which produce estrogen. Medications that block the body's production of estrogen are now part of the standard treatment of breast cancer. Prior to Huggins' work, cancer was generally treated only with surgery and painkilling drugs.

His son, Dr Charles E. Huggins, developed a better method for freezing and thawing donated blood, allowing blood to be stored almost indefinitely.

Father: Charles Edward Huggins (pharmacist)
Mother: Bessie Maria Spencer Huggins
Wife: Margaret Wellman Huggins (nurse, m. 29-Jul-1927, d. 1983)
Son: Charles E. Huggins (physician, d. 1989)
Daughter: Emily Wellman Huggins Fine

    University: BA, Acadia University (1920)
    Medical School: MD, Harvard Medical School (1924)
    Scholar: University of Michigan (1924-26)
    Teacher: Surgery, University of Michigan (1926-27)
    Teacher: Surgery, University of Chicago (1927-36)
    Professor: Surgery, University of Chicago (1936-69)
    Administrator: Director, Ben May Institute for Cancer Research, University of Chicago (1951-69)
    Administrator: Chancellor, Acadia University (1972-79)

    Lasker Award 1963
    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1966 (with Peyton Rous)
    American Philosophical Society
    National Academy of Sciences
    Royal College of Surgeons

Author of books:
Experimental Leukemia and Mammary Cancer: Induction, Prevention, Cure (1979)


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