Umetaro Suzuki

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Umetaro Suzuki (鈴木 梅太郎, Suzuki Umetarō, April 7, 1874 – September 20, 1943) was a Japanese scientist, born in Shizuoka Prefecture.

In 1910 he was researching the effects of rice bran in curing patients of beriberi when he discovered an active fraction, which he patented as "aberic acid" (later "oryzanin"). In 1935, this compound was refined and correctly described as thiamine. His research was among the earliest of modern vitamin research. He became a professor of agricultural chemistry at the University of Tokyo and served as the director of the Division of Chemistry at RIKEN.

Vitamin research[edit]

In 1910, Suzuki succeeded in extracting a water-soluble complex of micronutrients from rice bran and named it aberic acid. He published this discovery in a Japanese scientific journal.[1]

When the article was translated into German, the translation failed to state that it was a newly discovered nutrient, a claim made in the original Japanese article, and hence his discovery failed to gain publicity. Polish biochemist Kazimierz Funk isolated the same complex of micronutrients and proposed the complex be named "Vitamine" (a portmanteau of "vital amine") in 1912.[2]


  1. ^ Suzuki, U., Shimamura, T. (1911). "Active constituent of rice grits preventing bird polyneuritis". Tokyo Kagaku Kaishi. 32: 4–7, 144–146, 335–358.
  2. ^ Funk, C. and Dubin, H. E. (1922). The Vitamines. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins Company.