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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 14 Issue 1 (2009) pp 30-40

Hugh R. Butt (1910–2008), M.D.: Physician, Scientist, Educator: Pioneer in Clotting and Anticlotting Techniques

George B. Kauffman* and Jean-Pierre Adloff

Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034,, Honorary Professor, Université Louis Pasteur, 63 Rue Saint Urbain, Strasbourg, France F-67100,

Published online: 2 February 2009

Abstract. Hugh R. Butt (1910–2008), Professor Emeritus at the Mayo Clinic, died on August 16, 2008 in Rochester, Minnesota at the age of 98. While still a medical resident, he suspected that the hemorrhages caused by jaundice were due to an inability to absorb vitamin K, and he was the first to treat jaundice with this vitamin. He pursued research on the liver and the causes of biliary cirrhosis, a deterioration of the bile ducts within the liver that can lead to liver failure. After his appointment as Professor of Medicine in 1952, he devoted an increasing amount of his time to teaching, administration, and education of doctors in all specialities. During the 1960s he headed the debate about the medical education and recertification of practicing physicians, and he initiated a self-testing program that allowed physicians to refresh their knowledge in private without having to reveal their test results. He was one of the founders of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. He solicited large donations from celebrity patients, with whom he maintained lifelong friendships. He was a nationally recognized, self-taught metal sculptor, welding old tools, farm implements, wire, and objects that he found into whimsical figures.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; biography; history of medicine; American science; medical teaching and education; vitamins; vitamin k; hepatology; jaundice; liver diseases; anticoagulants; cancer research; Mayo Clinic; Mayo Brothers; philanthropy

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (446 KB) HTML format

Issue date: February 2, 2009

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