Fuller Albright

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Fuller Albright
Fuller Albright.jpg
Born January 12, 1900
Died December 8, 1969 (aged 69)
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard College
Harvard Medical School
Occupation endocrinologist
Known for calcium metabolism

Fuller Albright (January 12, 1900 – December 8, 1969) was an American endocrinologist who made numerous contributions to his field, especially to the area of calcium metabolism.[1]

Education and training[edit]

Albright was born in Buffalo, New York and was the son of John J. Albright, a prominent businessman and philanthropist who constructed the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo. "Fuller" was his mother's maiden name. He entered Harvard College at seventeen. After graduating cum laude three years later he entered Harvard Medical School. While he initially took an interest in obstetrics and orthopedic surgery, the discovery of insulin attracted him to internal medicine, specifically the study of metabolism. After his internship at Massachusetts General Hospital he embarked on a one-year programme of research with Joseph Charles Aub, mainly into calcium metabolism and lead poisoning. He was subsequently assistant resident to Dr Warfield Longcope at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he performed numerous experiments (often without realising their significance), together with his friend John Eager Howard. Finally he spent a year in Vienna with pathologist Prof Jakob Erdheim.[1] In the early 1930s he returned to Boston, where he became a member of the staff of Massachusetts General Hospital. At MGH he rapidly developed an endocrinology research group.[1]

He married Claire Birge, daughter of Walter Birge of New York, in 1933; they had two sons, Read and Birge.[2]

Work at Massachusetts General Hospital[edit]

Albright is credited with numerous discoveries in medicine. He described polyostotic fibrous dysplasia (later eponymically called McCune-Albright syndrome), the clinical and pathological features and different types of hyperparathyroidism (excessive production of parathyroid hormone by the parathyroid glands), the mechanism of Cushing's syndrome, and renal tubular acidosis (inability of the kidneys to regulate the acid-base balance in the body), and recognised the importance of menopause on osteoporosis.[1] He also delineated forms of congenital adrenal hyperplasia.[3]


In 1941 Albright was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[4] He was the president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (1943–1944), the Association for the Study of Internal Secretions (1945–1946) and the Endocrine Society (1946–1947). In 1955 he was elected to the National Academy of the Sciences.[1]

Since 1981, the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research has every year given the Fuller Albright Award in recognition of meritorious scientific accomplishment in the field of bone and mineral research.[5]

Illness and death[edit]

He developed Parkinson's disease in 1937. By 1956 his symptoms were so intractable that he underwent experimental brain surgery, chemical pallidotomy (obliteration of the globus pallidus by injection of alcohol). The intervention on the right was a success, but the left-sided procedure was complicated by haemorrhage, which left him aphasic and comatose for the remaining 13 years of his life, during which he was nursed at Massachusetts General Hospital.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Alex Leaf (1976). "Fuller Albright". Biographical Memoirs. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press. pp. 2–23. ISBN 0-309-02349-1. 
  2. ^ "MISS BIRGE TO WED DR.FULLER ALBRIGHT". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Schwartz TB (1995). "How to learn from patients: Fuller Albright's exploration of adrenal function". Ann. Intern. Med. 123 (3): 225–9. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-123-3-199508010-00010. PMID 7598305. 
  4. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  5. ^ "Fuller Albright Award". American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 

External links[edit]

  • The Fuller Albright Papers can be found at The Center for the History of Medicine at the Countway Library, Harvard Medical School.