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In 1985, the National Gallery commissioned Maggi Hambling to portray this remarkable woman as one of the most important chemists of the century. The foreground of this impressionistic painting is a model of the chemical structure of vitamin B12 and the subject is given four hands, holding a pencil, magnifying glass, piece of paper and pointing in a text. This 'artistic license' was a touch to emphasize her firm 'grip' on science and endeavor despite severely deformed hands as result of aggressive and severe rheumatoid arthritis.

X Fact
August 6, 2020
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Nobel Prize for Chemistry Awarded for Discovering the Structure of Vitamin B12

Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994) was only the third woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize (1964) for working out the molecular structure of vitamin B12. In 1948 she was given some red crystals of the vitamin by Dr. Lester Smith of the Glaxo drug company and asked if she could characterize it. She did, using X-ray crystallography and it took her 13 years to figure out the complex structure, which she finally completed in 1961. This allowed the compound to be synthesized to be used in the treatment of Pernicious Anemia.

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X-Ray Crystallography
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X-Ray Crystallography

X-ray Crystallography is a scientific method used to determine the arrangement of atoms of a crystalline solid in three dimensional space. This technique takes advantage of the interatomic spacing of most crystalline solids by employing them as a diffraction gradient for x-ray light, which has wavelengths on the order of 1 angstrom (10-8 cm).

Who Wrote This
Jonathan Bortz MD
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Jonathan’s background as a practicing diabetes specialist for 15 years and 17-year career developing nutritional prescriptive products for the pharmaceutical industry has contributed to his ability to understand nutrients, how they work and why they are important.

Over the years he has acquired broad and in-depth knowledge in minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients, but has special expertise in Vitamin B12 and choline metabolism. He is often asked to speak at national and international venues to articulate why B12, folate and choline are so important to gene function, brain development, liver and cardiovascular health. He applies pharmaceutical standards to nutrient science and has developed a unique ability to translate complicated concepts into simple promotional messages that resonate with practitioners and consumers. He has developed dozens of innovative nutritional products, of which many are category leaders in the US. Jonathan obtained his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School in South Africa and did his fellowship in Endocrinology at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

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