Nicolae Paulescu – The Discoverer of Pancreine

© – Nicolae Paulescu

Born on 30th of October 1869 in Bucharest, Nicolae Paulescu had had a penchant for studying natural sciences since childhood. With a brilliant memory, he became fluent in French, Latin and Ancient Greek, gifts enriched with artistic activities as drawing and music.

But his passion for natural sciences was the most important, and, after graduating “Mihai Viteazul” Highschool (in Bucharest), he went to Paris to study medicine. In 1897 he graduated with a Doctor in Medicine degree (“Recherches sur la structure de la rate ” thesis) and started his practice at “Hôtel-Dieu” Hospital, followed by “Notre Dame du Perpétuel-Secours” Hospital.

In 1900 he came back to Romania and was appointed as head of the Physiology Department of the University of Bucharest Medical School and professor of Clinical Medicine at “St. Vincent de Paul” Hospital. Starting 1902, he had turned into a fierce opponent of the English naturalist Charles Darwin, his studies being important as he opposed to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Despite his extremist political views, Paulescu had developed a huge activity in studying different working mechanisms of human body. His priorities were blood coagulation, classifying vascular glands, treatments for aneurism, thyroid, types of cancer and many more. But his major discovery was the pancreine (later named insulin). In 1921, he published 4 papers at the Romanian Section of the Society of Biology in Paris, where he described the effect and the influence of the pancreatic extract injection into a diabetic animal. More of his works on pancreine matter were published in France and Belgium. In 1922, Paulescu secured the patent rights for his method of manufacturing pancreine from the Romanian Ministry of Industry and Trade. In 1969, the Nobel Committee recognized the credit and the priority in the discovery of Nicolae Paulescu diabetic treatment.

On 19th of July 1931, Paulescu died and was buried at Bellu Cemetery. In 1993, the Institute of Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases “Prof. Dr. N. Paulescu” was opened within “Dr. Ioan Cantacuzino” Hospital, which is located on 5-7 Ion Movilă Street in Bucharest.

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