Hideyo Noguchi with signature
November 24, 1876|
Inawashiro, Fukushima prefecture
|Died||May 21, 1928
Hideyo Noguchi (野口 英世 Noguchi Hideyo , November 24, 1876 – May 21, 1928), also known as Seisaku Noguchi (野口 清作 Noguchi Seisaku ), was a prominent Japanese bacteriologist who discovered the agent of syphilis as the cause of progressive paralytic disease in 1911.
Early life 
Noguchi Hideyo was born in Inawashiro, Fukushima prefecture in 1876. When he was one and a half years old he fell down into a fireplace and suffered a burn injury on his left hand. There was no doctor in the small village, but one of the men examined the boy. "The fingers of the left hand are mostly gone," he said, "and the left arm and the left foot and the right hand are burned; I know not how badly."
In 1883 he entered Mitsuwa elementary school. Thanks to generous contributions from his teacher Kobayashi and his friends, he was able to receive surgery on his badly burned left hand. He recovered about 70% mobility and functionality in his left hand through the operation.
Noguchi decided to become a doctor to help those in need. He apprenticed himself to Dr. Kanae Watanabe (渡部 鼎 Watanabe Kanae ), the same doctor who had performed the surgery on his hand. He entered Saisei Gakusha, which later became Nippon Medical School. He passed the examinations to practice medicine when he was twenty years old in 1897. He showed signs of great talent and was supported in his studies by Dr. Morinosuke Chiwaki. In 1898, he changed his first name to Hideyo after reading a novel about a doctor who had the same name - Seisaku - as him. The doctor in the novel was intelligent like Noguchi, but became lazy and ruined his life.
In 1900 Noguchi moved to the United States, where he obtained a job as a research assistant with Dr. Simon Flexner at the University of Pennsylvania and later at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research. He thrived in this environment. At this time his work concerned poisonous snakes. In part, his move was motivated by difficulties in obtaining a medical position in Japan, as prospective employers were concerned about the impact the hand deformity would have on potential patients. In a research setting, this handicap became a non-issue. He and his peers learned from their work and from each other. In this period, a fellow research assistant in Flexner's lab was Frenchman Alexis Carrel, who would go on to win a Nobel Prize in 1912; and Noguchi's work would later attract the Prize committee's scrutiny. The Nobel Foundation archives have been only recently opened for public inspection; and what was once only speculation is now confirmed. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1913-1915, 1920, 1921 and 1924-1927.
While working at the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research in 1911, he was accused of inoculating orphan children with syphilis. Although he was acquitted of any wrongdoing, this is considered to be an early instance of unethical human experimentation.
In 1913, he demonstrated the presence of Treponema pallidum (syphilitic spirochete) in the brain of a progressive paralysis patient, proving that the spirochete was the cause of the disease. Dr. Noguchi's name is remembered in the binomial attached to another spirochete, Leptospira noguchii.
In 1918, Noguchi traveled extensively in Central America and South America to do research for a vaccine for yellow fever, and to research Oroya fever, poliomyelitis and trachoma. He believed that yellow fever was caused by spirochaete bacteria instead of a virus, and spent much of the next ten years attempting to prove this theory. His work on yellow fever was widely criticized as taking an inaccurate approach which was contradicting contemporary research, and confusing yellow fever with other pathogens. In 1927-28 three different papers appeared in medical journals which discredited his theories. Happily, it turned out he had confused yellow fever with leptospirosis, and his "yellow fever" vaccine was successfully used to treat the latter disease.
In 1928, Noguchi traveled to Africa in an attempt to prove his findings about yellow fever. While working in Accra, Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) he died from yellow fever on May 21, 1928, his last words being "I don't understand."
While Noguchi was famous during his lifetime, later research was not able to reproduce many of his claims including having discovered the causes of polio, rabies, syphilis, trachoma, and yellow fever. His finding that Noguchia granulosis causes trachoma was questioned within a year of his death, and overturned shortly thereafter. His identification of the rabies pathogen was wrong, because the medium he invented to cultivate bacteria was seriously prone to contamination. A fellow Rockefeller Institute researcher said that "he knew nothing about the pathology of yellow fever" and criticized him for being unwilling to issue retractions for false claims, saying, "I don't think that Noguchi was an honest scientist". Noguchi's frequent failures have often been attributed to his tendency to work in isolation without the skeptical eye of fellow researchers. The Rockefeller Institute's flawed system of peer review is also a frequent subject of criticism.
Noguchi's most famous contribution is his identification of the causative agent of syphillis (the bacteria Treponema pallidimn) in the brain tissues of patients suffering from partial paralysis due to meningoencephalitis. Other lasting contributions include the use of snake venom in serums, the identification of the leishmaniasis pathogen and of Carrion's disease with Oroya fever. His claim to have grown a culture of syphilis has proven irreproducible.
Selected works 
- Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution. [OCLC 2377892]
- 1909: Snake Venoms: An Investigation of Venomous Snakes with Special Reference to the Phenomena of Their Venoms.
- Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution. [OCLC 14796920]
- Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott. [OCLC 3201239]
- New York: P. B. Hoeber. [OCLC 14783533]
Honors during Noguchi's lifetime 
Noguchi was honored with both Japanese and foreign decorations. He received honorary degrees from a number of universities.
He was self-effacing in his public life, and he often referred to himself with naive objectiveness, as "funny Noguchi;" but those who knew him well reported that he "gloated in honors." When Noguchi was awarded an honorary doctorate at Yale, William Lyon Phelps observed that the Kings of Spain, Denmark and Sweden had conferred awards, but "perhaps he appreciates even more than royal honors the admiration and the gratitude of the people."
- Kyoto Imperial University - Doctor of Medicine, 1909.
- Order of Dannebrog, 1913 (Denmark).
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic, 1913 (Spain).
- Order of the Polar Star, 1914 (Sweden).
- Tokyo Imperial University - Doctor of Science, 1914.
- Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, 1915.
- Imperial Award, Imperial Academy (Japan) - 1915.
- Central University of Ecuador, 1919 - (Ecuador).
- National University of San Marcos, 1920 - (Peru)
- Medicine School of Merida - "Doctor Honoris Causa en Medicina y Cirugía", 1920 - (México)
- University of Guayaquil, 1919 - Ecuador.
- Yale University, 1921 - (United States).
Posthumous honors 
In 1979, the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research (NMIMR) was founded with funds donated by the Japanese government. The Institute is located at the University of Ghana in Legon, a suburb north of Accra.
Dr. Noguchi's portrait has been printed on Japanese 1000 yen banknotes since 2004. In addition, the house where he was born and brought up is preserved and is part of a museum to his life and its achievements near Inawashiro.
Noguchi's name is honored at the Centro de Investigaciones Regionales Dr. Hideyo Noguchi at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán.
Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize 
The Japanese Government established the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize in July 2006 as a new international medical research and services award to mark the official visit by Prime Minister Jun'ichirō Koizumi to Africa in May 2006 and the 80th anniversary of Dr. Noguchi’s death. The Prize aims to honor individuals with outstanding achievements in combating various infectious diseases in Africa or in establishing innovative medical service systems. The presentation ceremony and laureate lectures coincided with the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in late April 2008. This year's conference venue was moved from Tokyo to Yokohama as another way of honoring the man after whom the prize was named. In 1899, Dr. Noguchi worked at the Yokohama Port Quarantine Office as an assistant quarantine doctor.
The first awards of this international prize—consisting of a citation, a medal and an honorarium of 100 million yen (US$1,186,000) are only intended to be the first in a continuing series; and subsequently the Prize is expected to be awarded every five years. The prize as been made possible through a combination of government funding and private donations.
Human experimentation 
In 1911 and 1912 at the Rockefeller Institute in New York City, Noguchi was working to develop a syphilis skin test similar to the tuberculin skin test. The subjects were recruited from clinics and hospitals in New York. In the experiment, Noguchi injected an extract of syphilis called luetin under the subjects' upper arm skin. Skin reactions varied among healthy subjects and syphilis patients by the disease's stage and its treatment. Of the 571 subjects, 315 had syphilis. The remaining subjects were "controls" who did not have syphilis and were orphans or hospital patients. The hospital patients had nonsyphilitic diseases, such as malaria, leprosy, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. Finally, of the controls, were normal individuals, mostly children between the ages of 2 and 18 years. Critics at the time noted that Noguchi violated the rights of orphans and hospital patients.
In Noguchi's defense, Rockefeller Institute business manager Jerome D. Greene wrote a letter to the anti-vivisection society which had protested the experiment. Greene pointed out that Noguchi had tested the extract on himself before administering it to subjects, and his fellow researchers had done the same. Nevertheless, in May 1912 the New York Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Children asked the New York district attorney to press charges against Noguchi; he declined.
See also 
- List of prizes, medals, and awards
- Max Theiler - completed Noguchi's work, yellow fever vaccine (1926)
- Human experimentation in the United States
- Flexner, James Thomas. (1996). Maverick's Progress, pp. 51-52.
- Gray, Christopher. " Streetscapes/Rockefeller University, 62nd to 68th Streets Along the East River; From a Child's Death Came a Medical Institute's Birth," New York Times. February 25, 2001.
- Japanese Government Internet TV: "Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize," streaming video 2007/04/26
- "Nomination Database - Physiology or Medicine". nobelprize.org Nomination Database. Nobel Media. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- BASELESS CHARGE AGAINST DR. NOGUCHI; Libel Action May Arise Out of a Charge by the Anti-Vivisectionists. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50712FB3E5813738DDDA80A94DD405B828DF1D3
- Hideyo Noguchi's Luetin Experiment and the Antivivisectionists. Susan Eyrich Lederer Isis Vol. 76, No. 1 (Mar., 1985), pp. 31-48 http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/232791?uid=3739832&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101605085737
- Dixon, Bernard. "Fame, Failure, and Yellowjack," Microbe Magazine (American Society for Microbiology). May 2004.
- SS Kantha. "Hideyo Noguchi's Research on Yellow Fever (1918-1928) In The Pre-Electron Microscope Era". Kitasato Arch. of Exp. Med., 62.1 (1989), pp.1-9
- To, Wireless (May 22, 1928). "Dr. Noguchi is Dead, Martyr of Science. Bacteriologist of Rockefeller Institute Dies of Yellow Fever on Gold Coast. Japanese, Ranked With Pasteur and Metchnikoff, Found Carrier of Own Disease.". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-26. "Professor Hideyo Noguchi, bacteriologist of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, died here today from yellow fever, which ..."
- BBC/H2g2: Yellow Fever blurb.
- Grant J. Corrupted Science. Facts, Figures & Fun, 2007. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-904332-73-2.
- Beret E. Strong,G. Richard O'Connor. Seeking the Light: The Lives of Phillips and Ruth Lee Thygeson. p. 57; A. de Rotth, "The Problem of the Etiology of Trachoma Rickettsia", Arch Ophthalmol. 1939;22(4):533-539. doi:10.1001/archopht.1939.00860100017001
- Fielding H. Garrison. An introduction to the history of medicine. WB Saunders Co., 4th ed., 1966. p. 588.
- G.S. Wilson. "Faults and Fallacies in Microbiology: The Fourth Marjory Stephenson Memorial Lecture." Microbiology 21.1 (August 1959), 1-15 doi: 10.1099/00221287-21-1-1.
- Thomas Rivers. Tom Rivers: reflections on a life in medicine and science: an oral history memoir. M.I.T. Press, 1967. pp.95-98.
- Wilson 1959, p. 9.
- Isabel Rosanoff Plesset, Noguchi and his patrons
- Dr. Hideyo Noguchi’s Academic Achievements and Contribution to Africa
- "'Funny Noguchi,' Time. May 18, 1931.
- "Angll Inaugurated at Yale Graduation; New President Takes Office Before a Distinguished Audience of University Men;784 Degrees are given; Mme. Curie, Sir Robert Jones,Archibald Marshall, J.W. Davis and Others Honored," New York Times. June 23, 1921.
- Kita, Atsushi. (2005). Dr. Noguchi's Journey: A Life of Medical Search and Discovery, p. 169.
- Kita, p. 181.
- Kita, p. 177;
- Kita, p. 182.
- Kita, Atsushi. (2005). Dr. Noguchi's Journey: A Life of Medical Search and Discovery, p. 196; n.b., Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, 1915.
- Kita, p. 186.
- Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Noguchi & Latin America
- " A Place for All Eternity In Their Adopted Land," New York Times. September 1, 1997.
- "Mikado Honors Dr. Noguchi, New York Times. June 2, 1928.
- University of Pennsylvania: Global Health Project[dead link]
- University of Ghana: Noguchi Institute (NMIMR).[dead link]
- Bank of Japan: Valid Bank of Japan Notes, as of August 2004;[dead link] Brook, James. "Japan Issues New Currency to Foil Forgers," New York Times. November 2, 2004
- Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán
- Japan Science and Technology Agency: " Commemorative Lecture: The First Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize," Science Links Japan web site.
- Rockefeller Foundation: Noguchi Prize, history[dead link]
- Japan, Cabinet Office: Noguchi Prize, chronology
- Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Museum: Noguchi, life events[dead link]
- World Health Organization: Noguchi Prize, WHO/AFRO involved[dead link]
- "Noguchi Africa Prize short by 70% of fund target,"[dead link]Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo). March 30, 2008.
- Noguchi H (1912). "Experimental research in syphilis with especial reference to Spirochaeta pallida (Treponema pallidum)". JAMA 58 (16): 1163–1172.
- Lederer SE. Hideyo Noguchi's Luetin Experiment and the Antivivisectionists Isis, Vol. 76, No. 1 (Mar., 1985), pp. 31-48
- Susan E. Lederer. Subjected to Science: Human Experimentation in America before the Second World War. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. pp. 86-7.
- D'Amelio, Dan. Taller Than Bandai Mountain: The Story of Hideyo Noguchi. New York: Viking Press. 10-ISBN 9997502388; 13-ISBN 978-9997502384 (cloth) [OCLC 440466]
- Flexner, James Thomas. (1996). Maverick's Progress. New York: Fordham University Press. 10-ISBN 0-8232-1661-6; 13-ISBN 978-0-8232-1661-1 (cloth)
- Flexner Simon (1929). "Hideyo Noguchi: A Bographical Sketch". Science 69: 653.
- Kita, Atsushi. (2005). Dr. Noguchi's Journey: A Life of Medical Search and Discovery (tr., Peter Durfee). Tokyo: Kodansha. 10-ISBN 4-7700-2355-3; 13-ISBN 978-4-7700-2355-1 (cloth)
- Noguerea, J J (October 2007). "Hideyo Noguchi and trachoma (Inawashiro, Japan, 1876--Accra, Ghana, 1928)". Archivos de la Sociedad Española de Oftalmología (Spain) 82 (10): 661–2. ISSN 0365-6691. PMID 17929213.
- Liu, Pinghui V (September 2004). "Noguchi's contributions to science". Science (United States) 305 (5690): 1565. doi:10.1126/science.305.5690.1565a. PMID 15361606.
- Takeda, Yoshifumi (November 2003). "[Great Japanese bacteriologists in the Meiji, Taisho and Showa era]". Nippon Saikingaku Zasshi (Japan) 58 (4): 645–55. doi:10.3412/jsb.58.645. ISSN 0021-4930. PMID 14699855.
- Takazoe, Ichiro (October 2002). "[Achievement by Hideyo Noguchi]". Nippon Naika Gakkai Zasshi (Japan) 91 (10): 2887–90. ISSN 0021-5384. PMID 12451642.
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- Bendiner, E (February 1984). "Noguchi: many triumphs and a brilliant failure". Hosp. Pract. (Off. Ed.) (UNITED STATES) 19 (2): 222–3, 227, 231 passim. ISSN 8750-2836. PMID 6421835.
- Masaki, T (1978). "[Hideyo Noguchi and oral spirochaete]". Shikai tenbo = Dental outlook (AUSTRALIA) 51 (6): 1265. ISSN 0011-8702. PMID 394992.
- Dolman, C E (1977). "Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928): his final effort". Clio medica (Amsterdam, Netherlands) (ENGLAND) 12 (2–3): 131–45. ISSN 0045-7183. PMID 72623.
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- CLARK, P F (1959). "Hideyo Noguchi, 1876-1928". Bulletin of the history of medicine (Not Available) 33 (1): 1–20. ISSN 0007-5140. PMID 13629181.
- Sri Kantha S. Hideyo Noguchi's research on yellow fever (1918–1928) in the pre-electron microscopic era. Kitasato Archives of Experimental Medicine, April 1989; 62(1): 1-9.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Noguchi Hideyo|
- Hideyo Noguchi Memorial at Find A Grave
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- Japanese Government Internet TV: streaming video, "Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize," 2007/04/26 (5 mins.)
- Fukushima Prefecture: "The Dreamer, Hideyo Noguchi," slide show
- Cabinet Office, Government of Japan: Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize
- Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS): Purpose and Description of the Noguchi Prize
- National Diet Library: NDL portrait
- Yomiuri Shimbun: Noguchi -- slightly less than 90% name recognition amongst primary school students in Japan[dead link], 2008.