William H. Sebrell, Jr

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
William H. Sebrell Jr.
Henry Sebrell Jr.png
7th Director of the National Institutes of Health
In office
October 1, 1950 – July 31, 1955
PresidentHarry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded byRolla Dyer
Succeeded byJames Augustine Shannon
Personal details
Portsmouth, Virigina
DiedSeptember 29, 1992
Pompano Beach, Florida
EducationUniversity of Virginia

William H. Sebrell Jr. (1901 – September 29, 1992) was an American nutritionist.

Early years[edit]

Sebrell was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Virginia and then enrolled in the medical school, receiving his M.D. in 1925.


Sebrell joined the Public Health Service (PHS) in 1926. After completing an internship at the PHS Marine Hospital in New Orleans, Sebrell was assigned to the Hygienic Laboratory (as the National Institutes of Health was then known) in Washington, D.C.[1]

A leading international authority on nutrition, Sebrell first recognized and described the dietary deficiency disease, ariboflavinosis, and made significant contributions to knowledge of dietary needs and deficiencies. He began his research career under Dr. Joseph Goldberger, who demonstrated that pellagra is a deficiency disease. During the 1930s, Sebrell made many contributions to knowledge of the anemias and the role of diet in cirrhosis.

During World War II, Sebrell was co-director of the National Nutrition Program, which coordinated activities of all state agencies working in nutrition. This program aided food production and the maintenance of civilian health during the war years. In 1948 he became director of the Experimental Biology and Medicine Institute, and on October 1, 1950, he was appointed director of NIH. He held this post until his retirement on July 31, 1955.

Sebrell helped to formulate the first international standards of nutrition for the League of Nations and pioneered the growing acceptance of scientific nutrition as a regular function of modern state and local health departments.[2]

Sebrell also organized Columbia University's Institute of Human Nutrition.[3] In April 1971, he joined the staff of Weight Watchers.[4]


On September 29, 1992, Sebrell died from cancer at his home town in Pompano Beach, Florida.[5]


  1. ^ "Sebrell, William H." Onih.pastperfectonline.com. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  2. ^ "William Henry Sebrell, Jr., M.D." National Institutes of Health (NIH). 6 August 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2019. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Dunn, Marietta Fogel (June 14, 1973). "Doctor Works Toward Thinner World". The Kansas City Times. Missouri, Kansas City. p. 37 B. Retrieved 10 April 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Weight Watchers, Something New". The Tribune. Ohio, Coshocton. April 12, 1971. p. 5. Retrieved 10 April 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Lambert, Bruce (30 September 1992). "Dr. W. Henry Sebrell, 91, Expert On Nutrition and Use of Vitamins". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
Government offices
Preceded by
Rolla Dyer
7th Director of the National Institutes of Health
1950 – 1955
Succeeded by
James Augustine Shannon