Fuller Albright

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Fuller Albright
Fuller Albright.jpg
Born January 12, 1900
Buffalo, New York
Died December 8, 1969 (aged 69)
Boston, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard College
Harvard Medical School
Occupation Endocrinologist
Known for Calcium metabolism
Spouse(s) Claire Birge
Children Read Albright
Birge Albright
Parent(s) John J. Albright
Susan Fuller

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]

Early life and education[edit]

Albright was born on January 12, 1900 in Buffalo, New York. He was the second son and third child of John J. Albright, a prominent businessman and philanthropist who constructed the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo, and Susan Fuller, a Smith College graduate who was Albright's second wife. John J. Albright had three children from his first marriage and six from his marriage to Fuller. His maternal grandparents were Eben and Nancy Fuller, of Lancaster, Massachusetts.[2] His paternal grandparents were Joseph Jacob and Elizabeth S. Albright, both from Pennsylvania. The family was descended from Andrew Albright, a gunsmith who supplied arms to the troops of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, who had come to America in 1750.[3] Joseph was a coal agent for Delaware and Hudson Canal Company and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and eventually, President of the First National Bank.[3]

Albright entered Harvard College at the age of seventeen. After graduating cum laude three years later he entered Harvard Medical School in the Fall of 1920. 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 "MGH". At MGH. he rapidly developed an endocrinology research group.[1] 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.[4]

Appointments and honors[edit]

In 1941 Albright was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[5] 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.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 1930, he met Claire Birge (1906-1990) of Greenwich, Connecticut,[7] daughter of Walter William Birge and Mabelle Clair Brown, and by 1933, they were married.[8] As a wedding present, Albrights father bought them a house in Brookline, Massachusetts next door to conductor Serge Koussevitzky.[7] Together, they had two sons:

  • Read Albright (1939-2011), who married Jo Anne Pierson[9][10]
  • Birge Albright, who married Carol Bonomo (b. 1938), an author[11]

Albright 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] They divorced and in 1966, Claire married Richard Horace Bassett (1900-1995), an artist and writer.[12]


  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. ^ Taylor, Betsy (1998). The Ivy Grows Again: A History of the Albright Estate from 1890 to the Present. Nardin Academy. 
  3. ^ a b McCash, June Hall (1998). The Jekyll Island Cottage Colony. University of Georgia Press. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "Fuller Albright Award". American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Loriaux MD, PhD, D. Lynn (2016). A Biographical History of Endocrinology. Ames, Iowa: John Wiley & Sons. p. 326. ISBN 9781119202479. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  8. ^ "MISS BIRGE TO WED DR.FULLER ALBRIGHT". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  9. ^ Pave, Marvin (July 30, 2011). "Read Albright; coach, teacher was father figure to many; at 72". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  10. ^ "Albright". harvard60.org. Harvard Class of 1960. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  11. ^ Staff. "Cambridge Women's Heritage Project". cambridgema.gov. Cambridge Women's Heritage Project - March 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  12. ^ "Claire Albright Bassett". www.findagrave.com. Find A Grave Memorial. Retrieved 14 April 2016. 

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.