Nobel Prize Recipient. Earl W. Sutherland, Jr., an American pharmacologist and biochemist, received world-wide notoriety after being awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. According to the Nobel Prize committee, he received the award "for his discoveries concerning the mechanisms of the action of hormones." He focused on the actions of many hormones but especially epinephrine, or also known as adrenaline, which is the fight or flight hormone. Born the second from the youngest in six children, his father had a dry goods store. He developed an interest in sports especially fishing and tennis. He graduated with a B.S. degree from Washburn College in 1937. To aide in funding his education, he held a post as medical assistant at a local hospital. In 1942, he received his M.D. degree from Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, where he worked under Dr. Carl Ferdinand Cori, who would become the 1947 Nobel Prize recipient in Physiology or Medicine. Starting in 1940 he conducted research on the effects of the hormones of epinephrine and glucagon on the breakdown of glycogen to glucose. After graduating, he was an intern at Washington University's Barnes Hospital. During World War II, he served in the United States Army as a physician with General Patton's forces for a short time. After the war, he returned to Washington University holding consecutively the positions of instructor in pharmacology from 1945 to 1946, instructor in biochemistry from 1946 to 1950, assistant professor in biochemistry from 1950 to 1952, and associate professor in biochemistry from 1952 to 1953. In 1953, he accepted a position as professor of pharmacology and chairman of the department of pharmacology at the school of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He and his colleague, Theodore W. Rall, began their life-long partnership in hormone research. Around 1960 he and Rall showed how cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) serves as the secondary messenger within the cell. He published with other researchers a four-part article in the "Journal of Biological Chemistry" titled "The Relationship of Epinephrine and Glucagon to Liver Phosphorylase." Dr. W.D. Wosilait co-authored three of the four articles and Rall one. He eventually became part of the editorial board of the "Journal of Biological Chemistry." In 1963 he accepted a position at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee as professor of anatomy, which gave him more time to do research with funding by Career Investigatorship awarded to him by the American Heart Association in 1967. He remained at Vanderbilt University until 1973. From 1973 until his death, he was a member of the faculty of the University of Miami Medical School in Florida. When it came to his research, he was known to have a detailed memory, which included in some cases the exact numerical results of experiments that others had done years before. He was a strong believer in open scientific communication and honest searching for new truths. Besides the Nobel Prize, he was awarded the Albert Lasker Award in 1970, American Heart Association Achievement Award in 1971 and many other awards. In 1973 he received the National Medal of Science from United States President Nixon and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He was recognized by the Vanderbilt University in 1976 with the Sutherland Prize, in 1997 the Earl W. Sutherland Lecture, and in 2001 the Earl W. Sutherland, Jr. Chair of Pharmacology. In 1974 the Sutherland Memorial Lecture was established by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. His research notebooks are archived at the Louis Calder Memorial Library of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. After graduating from Washburn College, he married and the couple had two sons and a daughter. After a twenty-five-year marriage, the couple divorced in 1962 and he remarried a colleague at the University of Vanderbilt, Dr. Claudia Sebeste.
Bio by: Linda Davis
Nobel Prize for Medical Research 1971