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Umetaro Suzuki (1874-1943) was a Japanese scientist, born in what is now part of Makinohara, Shizuoka, Japan. He was a member of the Imperial Academy, and a recipient of the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure and the Order of Culture. His research was among the earliest of modern vitamin research. 

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September 8, 2020
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Have You Taken Your Orizanins Today?

The first vitamin was isolated in 1910 by Japanese scientist Umetaro Susuki. It would be named Orizanin and we know it today as niacin (vitamin B3). Because of a translation error when going from his paper in Japanese to the lingua franca of the day, German, this novel nutrient discovery was not highlighted. Two years later, a scientist working in London called Casimir Funk, isolated the same nutrient complex and a friend suggested it be called ‘vitamine’, a portmanteau of ‘vital’ and ‘amine’, with  the amine a consequence of the belief such nutrients all contained the -NH2 amine group. By the time it was realized not all such nutrients contained this group (see vitamins A and C for example) the name was entrenched, although the final ‘e’ was dropped to lessen the emphasis on the amine part. Of course, if not for the translation issue, the credit would have been Susuki’s and we may all be taking our “Orizanins” today.

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Words You May Not Know
Amine
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Amine

Any member of a family of nitrogen-containing organic compounds that is derived, either in principle or in practice, from ammonia (NH3).

Portmanteau
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Portmanteau

A word whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (such as smog from smoke and fog)

Lingua Franca
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Lingua Franca

Any language that is widely used as a means of communication among speakers of other languages.

Who Wrote This
Robert P. Doyle PhD
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Prof. Robert Doyle is a medicinal chemist with an interest in pharmaceutical drug and probe development for the study and treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. He has a broad background in peptide and protein design and expression, synthetic bio-conjugate chemistry, drug delivery, protein biochemistry and assay development. In 2005, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Syracuse University and promoted, with tenure, to Associate Professor in 2009 and then full Professor in 2014. He is also adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at SUNY, Upstate Medical University (UMU). In 2016, He was named the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor, Syracuse University.  As a Principal Investigator (PI), he has focused on the  chemistry of vitamin B12 and its dietary pathway and components to modify drug pharmacodynamics and/or pharmacokinetics. He has been funded by the NIH and DoD, as well as multiple societies, foundations and pharmaceutical companies.  He has published over 100 research papers (35+ in the vitamin B12 space) and is the holder of over a dozen patents.

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