Oskar Minkowski

Last updated
Oskar Minkowski
Born13 January 1858
Died18 July 1931 (1931-07-19) (aged 73)
Known for pancreas and diabetes
Scientific career
Fields Diabetology
Institutions University of Breslau
Influences Josef von Mering

Oskar Minkowski ( /mɪŋˈkɔːfski,-ˈkɒf-/ ; [1] German: [mɪŋˈkɔfski] 13 January 1858 – 18 July 1931) was a German physician and physiologist who held a professorship at the University of Breslau and is most famous for his research on diabetes. He was the brother of the mathematician Hermann Minkowski and father of astrophysicist Rudolph Minkowski.


Life and career

Born in Aleksotas, of Jewish origin, [2] [3] but later converted to Christianity. [4] Minkowski was the son of Rachel (née Taubmann) and Lewin Boruch Minkowski (1825–1884), a first-guild merchant, who subsidized construction of the choral synagogue in Kovno. [2]

Discovery of the role of pancreas in diabetes

Minkowski worked with Josef von Mering on the study of diabetes at the University of Strasbourg. Their landmark study in 1889 in dogs induced diabetes by removing their pancreas. It was Minkowski who performed the operation and made the crucial link to recognize that the symptoms of the treated dogs were due to diabetes. [5] Thus they were able to indicate that the pancreas contained regulators to control blood sugar; they also provided a model for the study of diabetes. Their work led other doctors and scientists to pursue further research on the relation of the pancreas to diabetes, and ultimately resulted in the discovery of insulin as a treatment for the disease.

Minkowski on a 2012 Lithuanian stamp Oskar Minkowski 2012 Lithuanian stamp.jpg
Minkowski on a 2012 Lithuanian stamp

Minkowski Prize

In recognition of the discovery by Minkowski the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annually awards the Minkowski Prize for outstanding original work of a younger investigator in diabetes research. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles


Endocrinology is a branch of biology and medicine dealing with the endocrine system, its diseases, and its specific secretions known as hormones. It is also concerned with the integration of developmental events proliferation, growth, and differentiation, and the psychological or behavioral activities of metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sleep, digestion, respiration, excretion, mood, stress, lactation, movement, reproduction, and sensory perception caused by hormones. Specializations include behavioral endocrinology and comparative endocrinology.

Insulin Peptide hormone

Insulin is a peptide hormone produced by beta cells of the pancreatic islets; it is considered to be the main anabolic hormone of the body. It regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood into liver, fat and skeletal muscle cells. In these tissues the absorbed glucose is converted into either glycogen via glycogenesis or fats (triglycerides) via lipogenesis, or, in the case of the liver, into both. Glucose production and secretion by the liver is strongly inhibited by high concentrations of insulin in the blood. Circulating insulin also affects the synthesis of proteins in a wide variety of tissues. It is therefore an anabolic hormone, promoting the conversion of small molecules in the blood into large molecules inside the cells. Low insulin levels in the blood have the opposite effect by promoting widespread catabolism, especially of reserve body fat.

John Macleod (physiologist)

John James Rickard Macleod, FRS FRSE LLD was a Scottish biochemist and physiologist. He devoted his career to diverse topics in physiology and biochemistry, but was chiefly interested in carbohydrate metabolism. He is noted for his role in the discovery and isolation of insulin during his tenure as a lecturer at the University of Toronto, for which he and Frederick Banting received the 1923 Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine. Awarding the prize to Macleod was controversial at the time, because according to Banting's version of events, Macleod's role in the discovery was negligible. It was not until decades after the events that an independent review acknowledged a far greater role than was attributed to him at first.

Frederick Banting

Sir Frederick Grant Banting was a Canadian medical scientist, physician, painter, and Nobel laureate noted as the co-discoverer of insulin and its therapeutic potential.

Hermann Minkowski German mathematician and physicist

Hermann Minkowski was a German mathematician of Polish-Jewish descent and professor at Königsberg, Zürich and Göttingen. He created and developed the geometry of numbers and used geometrical methods to solve problems in number theory, mathematical physics, and the theory of relativity.

Bernard Katz

Sir Bernard Katz, FRS was a German-born British physician and biophysicist, noted for his work on nerve physiology. He shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1970 with Julius Axelrod and Ulf von Euler. He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1969.

Nicolae Paulescu

Nicolae Constantin Paulescu was a Romanian physiologist, professor of medicine, and politician, most famous for his work on diabetes, including patenting pancreine. The "pancreine" was an extract of bovine pancreas in salted water, after which some impurites were removed with hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide. Paulescu was also, with A. C. Cuza, co-founder of the National Christian Union and later, of the National-Christian Defense League in Romania.

The year 1889 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.

Otto Loewi

Otto Loewi was a German-born pharmacologist and psychobiologist who discovered the role of acetylcholine as an endogenous neurotransmitter. For his discovery he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1936, which he shared with Sir Henry Dale, who was a lifelong friend that helped to inspire the neurotransmitter experiment. Loewi met Dale in 1902 when spending some months in Ernest Starling's laboratory at University College, London.

Joseph von Mering

Josef, Baron von Mering was a German physician.

Minkowski Prize

The Minkowski Prize is given by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in recognition to research which has been carried out by a person normally residing in Europe, as manifested by publications which contribute to the advancement of knowledge concerning diabetes mellitus. The Prize honors the name of Oskar Minkowski (1858–1931), a physician and physiologist who was the discoverer of the role of pancreas in the control of glucose metabolism. It has been awarded annually since 1966, and the winner is invited to pronounce a Minkowski Lecture during the EASD Annual Conference. It is traditionally seen as the most prestigious European prize in the field of diabetes research.

Bernhard Naunyn

Bernhard Naunyn was German pathologist born in Berlin.

The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) is a scientific association founded in Montecatini Terme, Italy in 1965 with Joseph Hoet as Founding President. The aims of the association are to encourage and support research in the field of diabetes, the rapid diffusion of acquired knowledge in that field, and to facilitate its application.

Étienne Lancereaux

Étienne Lancereaux was a French physician born in Brécy-Brières. He is remembered for pioneer contributions made in the understanding of diabetes.

Douglas L. Coleman was a scientist and professor at The Jackson Laboratory, in Bar Harbor, Maine. His work predicted that the ob gene encoded the hormone leptin, later co-discovered in 1994 by Jeffrey Friedman, Rudolph Leibel and their research teams at Rockefeller University. This work has had a major role in our understanding of the mechanisms regulating body weight and that cause of human obesity.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to diabetes mellitus :

History of diabetes

The condition known today as diabetes is thought to have been described in the Ebers Papyrus. Ayurvedic physicians first noted the sweet taste of diabetic urine, and called the condition madhumeha. The term "diabetes" traces back to Demetrius of Apamea. For a long time, the condition was described and treated in traditional Chinese medicine as xiāo kě. Physicians of the medieval Islamic world, including Avicenna, have also written on diabetes. Early accounts often referred to diabetes as a disease of the kidneys. In 1674, Thomas Willis suggested that diabetes may be a disease of the blood. Johann Peter Frank is credited with distinguishing diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus in 1794.

Willy Gepts was a Belgian pathologist and diabetes researcher. He worked from 1965 as a professor of pathology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and later at the newly founded Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel. With his research on pathological anatomy of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, he made important contributions to force up today view that the referred to as type 1 diabetes, type of diabetes mellitus is an autoimmune disease.

Ernest Lyman Scott (1877-1966) was an American physiologist and diabetes researcher who spent much of his career on the faculty at Columbia University. Scott's early work contributed to the modern understanding of the biology of insulin and its use in diabetes management, though the exact role and significance of his research in this context has been a subject of controversy. Later, Scott developed a standard blood test for diabetes. After retiring from Columbia in 1942, Scott went on to become a noted horticulturist.

Miriam Cnop is a Belgian researcher and physician specializing in diabetology. She is Professor of Medicine at Université Libre de Bruxelles and Clinical Director of Erasmus Hospital’s Endocrinology Department. Her work is centered on type 2 diabetes, in particular mechanisms of lipotoxicity using human islets of Langerhans and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived β Cells. She is an associate member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium. In 2013 her work was awarded the Oskar Minkowski prize from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.


  1. "Minkowski". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary .
  2. 1 2 Minkowski biography. History.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk (1909-01-12). Retrieved on 2014-07-23.
  3. Oskar Minkowski Archived 2013-12-29 at the Wayback Machine . Diabetologia-journal.org (1931-06-18). Retrieved on 2014-07-23.
  4. Luft, R (1989). "Oskar Minkowski: Discovery of the pancreatic origin of diabetes, 1889". Diabetologia. 32 (7): 399–401. doi: 10.1007/BF00271257 . PMID   2680696.
  5. Roberts, Jacob (2015). "Sickening sweet". Distillations. 1 (4): 12–15. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  6. Minkowski Prize. easd.org