Pellagra

Goldberger, Joseph and G.A. Wheeler. The Experimental Production of Pellagra in Human Subjects by Means of Diet. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1920. (Hygienic Laboratory Bulletin)

In 1914, Dr. Joseph Goldberger was sent to the South to find a cure for pellagra. At the time pellagra was thought to be an infectious disease. Goldberger travelled throughout Georgia, South Carolina and other southern states observing employees in hospitals, asylums, and orphanages, yet he never contracted the disease. He believed that diet and pellagra were related and wrote in Septmber 1914, "No pellagra develops in those who consume a mixed, well-balanced diet." Carefully controlled dietary studies in orphanages confirmed this theory and in a classic experiment in a convict camp in Mississippi, Goldberger produced the disease experimentally by diet. Experiments on himself and co-workers showed that it was impossible to transmit the disease from one person to another. Goldberger was convinced that the solution lay with chemists and experimental nutritionists. Foods were analyzed, and Goldberger and his assoicates began experimental studies with dogs. In 1926, the pellagra-preventive factor was reported to be a member of the B-group of vitamins. In October 1928, Goldberger gave his last public address on pellagra at The American Dietetic Association. He died the following January. Nine years later, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin identified nicotinic acid as the curative factor for pellagra.