Pioneers in Public Health The NYU - Bellevue Contribution

The Origins of Pellagra

Dr. Joseph Goldberger, an 1895 graduate of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, discovered the cause of pellagra, a widespread devastating disease whose symptoms included severe dermatitis and dementia. Pellagra caused devastating fatalities concentrated in the southern United States in 1918.

Dr. Goldberger proved that pellagra was not caused by an infectious agent, as was believed at the time, but rather by a simple dietary deficiency that, if addressed, could not only cure but also prevent pellagra epidemics from occurring in the first place. For his work on the etiology of pellagra, Dr. Goldberger was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1929.

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