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Few people know that the principle of insuline, the drug administered to diabetics that so many lives has saved, was discovered by a Romanian, Dr. Nicolae Paulescu. The cause for such an injustice has been buried by time. Here is a short story of Dr. Paulescu. Judge for yourselves.

Nicolae C. Paulescu was born in Bucharest on October 30, 1869. From his first years of high school, he displayed remarkable intelligence, learning French, Latin and Greek. Several years later he could speak these languages fluently and read works of classical Latin and Greek literature in the original. He had a particular talent for drawing and music as well as special inclinations to natural and physicochemical sciences.

A man of solid general education, he left for Paris in the autumn of 1888 where he entered the Faculty of Medicine. In 1891, after three years of assiduous work, he went in for a competitive examination, passing it successfully. In 1897 he obtained the title of Doctor of Medicine and, at the same time, the rank of deputy surgeon general of the Notre Dame du Perpetuel-Secours Hospital.

A field he excelled in was that of scientific research. He ranks among the first and most prolific endocrinologist of his country. From April 24 to June 23, 1921, Paulescu delivered four papers at the Romanian Section of the Society of Biology in Paris:

-The effect of the pancreatic extract injected into a diabetic animal by way of the blood.

-The influence of the time elapsed from the intravenous pancreatic injection into a diabetic animal.

-The effect of the pancreatic extract injected into a normal animal by way of the blood.
On June 22 of the same year, Paulescu sent his exhaustive paper "Research on the role of the pancreas in food assimilation" to Archives Internationals de Physiology of Liege (Belgium), which was published in August 1921. In this paper he studied the effect of the pancreatic extract on acetonemia and acetonuria as well. Paulescu referred to the active principle of the pancreatic extract as pancrein and established the pancrein unit by taking as a measure the amount of minced pancreas used to prepare it. On April 10, 1922 he obtained the letters patent No. 6254, entitled Pancrein and its preparation technique from the Minister of Industry and Trade in Romania. His approaches did not yield the results wished for owing to shortage of funds for this achievement in Romania.

Eight months after the appearance of Paulescu's works, two young Canadians were working at the University of Toronto, published their results pertaining to the hyperglycemia of diabetic dogs, using a pancreatic extract.. Their conclusions, similar to those previously published by Paulescu, did not produce anything new and were less complete, having rather the character of a confirmation of Paulescu's results. The references of their article included the papers read by Paulescu at the Society of Biology in Paris. To everybody's bewilderment, the 1923 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to the Canadians Banting, who had performed his researches on dogs, and MacLeod, the professor in whose laboratory the experiments on the antidiabetic principle of the pancreas had been carried out.

Positive about the justice of his cause, Paulescu reacted at once, expressing several protests. He addressed a categorical, well supported protest to the president of the Nobel prize award commission (Uppsala) for he did not know that the award regulations of the Nobel Foundation prohibited any change in a decision made and denied any possibility to dispute. He applied several times in Medicine Congresses and in different Societies. That is why the bestowal of the Nobel prize for the discovery of insulin on the Canadians Banting was disapproved of by many contemporary scientists. Some of them criticized the injustice done to Paulescu.

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© World INvestment NEws, 2000.
This is the electronic edition of the special country report on Romania published in Forbes Global.
July 24th 2000 Issue.
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