- Category : Science-Chemistry
- Type : ME
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Masks 2
Dutch physician, bacteriologist, professor of physiology and hygiene.
Eijkman won the 1929 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine together with Sir Frederick Hopkins for the discovery of thiamine deficiency as the cause of beriberi. His brilliant assistant, the later professor in Animal Physiology and Rector Magnificus of the University of Wageningen Gerrit Grijns (b. 28 May 1865, Leerdam - 11 November 1944, Utrecht) who also contributed to this insight, was passed.
He was the seventh of the ten children of Christiaan Eijkman (b. 25 Nov 1822, Utrecht- 1 Dec 1893, Wageningen), the headmaster of a boarding school and Johanna Alida Pool (13 Dec 1814, Nijmegen - 14 Dec 1898, Amsterdam) who married 13 April 1949. Two children died early, but the others eight became adults. His brother Johann Frederik Eijkman (1851) became a famous chemist.
In 1875 Eijkman studied medicine at the Military Medical School of the University of Amsterdam to become a medical officer for the Netherlands Indies Army. From 1879 to 1881 he assisted the physiologist T. Place. On 13 July 1883 he dissertated cum laude on the thesis ”Over de polarisatie van zenuwen” (On Polarization of the Nerves) in Amsterdam.
On 30-8-1883 he married Aaltje Wigêri van Edema (b. 19 Nov 1859, Wolvega - 8 Jan 1886, Nijehaske). That year they went to Java, later West-Sumatra where he served as a medical officer. After he he contracted malaria he went back to the Netherlands on sick-leave. In 1885 he specialised in bacteriology under Joseph Forster in Amsterdam and Robert Koch in Berlin. In 1886 his wife Aaltje died at age 27.
The same year he went back to the Dutch Indies to study the polyneuropathy disease beriberi. The commission for the investigation of beriberi under the head of Pekelharing and Winkler was established by the Dutch government to combat the disease that took epidemic forms in the eighties of the 19th century. At that time it was assumed that a bacteria caused beriberi, but a contagious agent of transmission was never found.
He married on 21 July 1888 in Batavia Bertha Julie Louise van der Kemp ( 27 Oct 1869, Loemadjang, Java - 1949). On 12 Febr 1892 they got his only son Pieter Hendrik.
From January 15, 1888 to March 4, 1896 Eijkman was Director of the "Geneeskundig Laboratorium" (Medical Laboratory) in Batavia. In 1889 the later Eykman Institute in Batavia was established. Eykman experimented in the Laboratory for Pathological Anatomy and Physiology with hens fed only on white rice that got polyneuropathy and discovered in 1890 an anti-neuritic vitamin in the bran of rice that seemed to act like an antibiotic, but later when thiamine was discovered proved to be an essential food constituent. For his work on vitamins he received the 1929 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine together with Sir Frederick Hopkins. But he still expected a bacteriological causation of the disease Beriberi. For this he he is remembered as the 'the unwilling father of the vitamins'.
In 1898 he went back to the Netherlands to become professor of Hygiene and Forensic Medicine at Utrecht. He studied anaemia, rabies, the growth of E. coli bacteria, developed a fermentation test to detect polluted water and many other biochemical subjects.
In 1913 he became rector magnificus of Utrecht University.
He got several Royal medals, the Noble price for physiology of 1929 and the Eijkman Medal for research on nutrition was named after him.
He died 5 November 1930 in Utrecht after a long disease. He was too ill to accept personally the Norwegian Noble price.