Sir Edward Mellanby (1884–1955) GBE KCB FRCP FRS: nutrition scientist and medical research mandarin

Pathologists

Sir Edward Mellanby (1884–1955) GBE KCB FRCP FRS: nutrition scientist and medical research mandarin

Barbara J Hawgood

Correspondence: Dr Barbara Hawgood, 26 Cloister Road, London W3 0DE, UK (email: [email protected])

Edward Mellanby used the experimental method to investigatemedical problems. In 1918, working at King’s College for Women,London, he provided conclusive evidence that rickets is a dietarydeficiency disease due to lack of a fat-soluble vitamin [D].In Sheffield he demonstrated that cereals, in an unbalanceddiet, produced rickets due to the phytic acid content reducingthe availability of calcium. Mellanby became Secretary of theMedical Research Council (1933–49) but continued his researchby working at weekends. In the 1930s he campaigned for the resultsof nutritional research to be used for the benefit of publichealth. During World War II he acted as a scientific adviserto the War Cabinet and had a strong influence on the food policywhich maintained successfully the nutrition of the populationduring the shipping blockade. Mellanby was a formidable personbut with sagacity he promoted new research and guided the expansionof the organization.