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Hove, Arthur O. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 69, Number 4 (Jan. 1968)

Prof. Harry Steenbock dies,   p. 2

Page 2

      Vitamin D
P ROF. Harry Steenbock, famed
   Wisconsin scientist, scholar, and
University benefactor died in Madi-
son on Dec. 25, 1967 at the age of 81.
   In a eulogy, Madison Campus
Chancellor William H. Sewell took
account of Prof. Steenbock's life and
his contributions to science and the
   "Harry Steenbock was born on a
crossroads farm in Charlestown, Wis.,
in 1886. He attended country schools
at New Holstein and high school at
Chilton, entering the University of
Wisconsin College of Agriculture in
1904. He received his Ph.D. degree
here in 1916 and became professor of
biochemistry three years later.
   "Prof. Steenbock was one of the
University's greatest scholars and
teachers for half a century, among
the earliest to bring international fame
to this institution, attracting scholars
from far corners of the world. Under
him, more than 50 graduate students
have received advanced degrees at
   "His research contributions have
had a profound effect upon the citi-
zens of the state, the nation, and the
world. His discoveries relating to the
production of Vitamin D by the irra-
diation of sterols led to the virtual
disappearance of rickets in young
children, considered one of the out-
standing medical achievements of this
century. His discoveries of the Vita-
min A activity of the carotene frac-
tion of plant lipoids and contributions
to man's knowledge of vitamins E,
B1, B6, and the inter-relationships of
fats, minerals, and vitamins with body
processes continue to have far-
reaching effects.
   "He was instrumental in formulat-
 ing the plan which brought the Wis-
 consin Alumni Research Foundation
 into being, with funds from the
 patent of the Vitamin D discovery re-
 turned to research at the University.
 This funding system served to set a
 pattern for scientific support in a
 wide range of educational institutions
 around the world.
   "He became emeritus professor
 here in 1956, but by special action of
 the University Regents he was asked
to continue work in his University
laboratories, and his work on the
mechanism of action of Vitamin D
resulted in the development of diets
which are still used for bioassay of
the vitamin today.
  "In 1965 the Harry Steenbock Re-
search Professorship in Biochemistry
at the University was established to
support research and education at its
highest level, memorializing a man
who has played a leading role in both
areas for so many years.
  "In that same year the Wisconsin
Academy of Sciences, Arts and Let-
ters cited him for his work with ultra-
violet irradiation and his work in
helping set up the Wisconsin Alumni,
Research Foundation, and in 1959
the American Institute of Nutritioh
voted him the Borden Award for
"long and continued investigation in
the fields of mineral metabolism, the
relation of ultraviolet light to anti-
rachitic activity, and the physiological
chemistry of vitamins A and D."
  "In 1950 a poll was taken among
the people of Wisconsin to name the
10 greatest living Wisconsin residents.
Harry Steenbock was named by the
people to that list-the only Univer-
sity of Wisconsin faculty member so
  "His great energy, his scientific
ability, and his foresight in advancing
research combined into a unique and
remarkable scientific career which
has provided lasting benefits to man-
   UW President Fred Harvey Har-
rington added his own personal trib-
ute following Prof. Steenbock's
   "We all mourn the passing of Dr.
Steenbock. He is one of the great
men in the history of the University.
His scientific work has helped the
whole of mankind and his philan-
thropical impulse has been of enor-
mous importance to the development
of this institution and the State of
   The family has suggested that me-
morials be made to the Wisconsin
Society for Ornithology or the Wis-
consin Academy of Sciences, Arts,
and Letters.
Wisconsin Alumnus

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