Harriette Chick

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Dr. Dame Harriette Chick, DBE (6 January 1875 – 9 July 1977) was a British protein scientist and nutritionist. She was born into a Methodist family, the fifth of eleven children. Her father owned property and sold lace. While studying at University College London, Chick won awards for botany- the advanced-class prize in 1894-1895 and the senior-class Gold Medal in 1896.[1] Educated at Notting Hill & Ealing High School, she served as secretary of the League of Nations health section committee on the physiological bases of nutrition from 1934 to 1937. She was awarded a D.Sc. from London University for her work on green algae in polluted waters.[1] In 1941 she was a founding member of the Nutrition Society, of which she served as president from 1956 to 1959.

Chick and Charles James Martin discovered that the process of protein denaturation was distinct from protein coagulation (or flocculation),[2] beginning the modern understanding of protein folding. She is known for having formulated Chick's Law in 1908, giving the relationship between the kill efficiency of organisms and contact time with a disinfectant.[3][4] Chick's Law was later modified by Dr. H.E. Watson in 1908 to include the coefficient of specific lethality. The Chick-Watson Equation is still used.

In 1915, she went to the Lister Institute in Elstree to test and bottle tetanus antitoxin for the army.[5] Together with Dr. Elsie Dalyell, she led a team from the Lister Institute and the Medical Research Institute in 1922 to study the relation of nutrition to bone disease. They discovered the nutritional factor causing rickets, and proved that fat-soluble vitamins present in cod liver oil, or exposure to ultra violet light, could cure and prevent rickets in children.[6][7] She worked at the Lister Institute for over fifty years, and isolated vitamin C in various other fruits and vegetables.[8]


She never married and died in 1977, aged 102.


  1. ^ a b Haines, Catharine (2001). International Women in Science: A Biographical Dictionary to 1950. California: ABC-CLIO,Inc. ISBN 1-57607-090-5. 
  2. ^ Chick, Harriette; Martin, CJ (1910). "On the "Heat" Coagulation of Proteins". Journal of Physiology 40: 404–430. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.1910.sp001378. 
    Chick, Harriette; Martin, CJ (1911). "On the "Heat" Coagulation of Proteins; the Action of Hot Water upon Egg-albumen and the Influence of Acid and Salts upon Reaction Velocity". Journal of Physiology 43: 1–27. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.1911.sp001456. 
    Chick, Harriette; Martin, CJ (1912). "On the "Heat" Coagulation of Proteins. III. The Influence of Alkali upon Reaction Velocity". Journal of Physiology 45: 61–69. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.1912.sp001535. 
    Chick, Harriette; Martin, CJ (1912). "On the "Heat" Coagulation of Proteins. IV. The Conditions controlling the Agglutination of Proteins already acted upon by Hot Water". Journal of Physiology 45: 261–95. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.1912.sp001551. 
  3. ^ Chick's Law
  4. ^ "Women Physiologists" 308 (6937). 1994. PMC 2540130. 
  5. ^ H. M. Sinclair, Chick, Dame Harriette (1875–1977) profile, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, January 2008 accessed 19 Sept 2011
  6. ^ Information, Reed Business (28 July 1977). "New Scientist". 
  7. ^ Dalyell and Chicks Research
  8. ^ Vitamin Discussion