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

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Minkowski Prize

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History of diabetes

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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