Nicolae Paulescu, the romanian who saved hundreds of millions of people. The inventor of insulin
Nicolae C. Paulescu, in full Nicolas Constantin Paulescu, Nicolas also spelled Nicolae, (born 1869, Bucharest, Romania—died 1931, Bucharest), Romanian physiologist who conducted groundbreaking research on the antidiabetic hormone insulin and whose anti-Semitic writings contributed to the rise of the fascist Iron Guard movement (1930–41).
In 1916, Paulescu developed an aqueous (watery) pancreatic extract which, when injected into a dog with diabetes, had a normalising effect on its blood sugar levels.
Paulescu’s pancreine was an extract of bovine pancreas in salted water, purified with hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide.
Shortly after, Paulescu was called to service in the Romanian Army during World War I, returning in 1921.
He then wrote an extensive whitepaper about the effect of the extract, titled ‘Research on the role of the pancreas in food assimilation’, which was published in August 1921.
Paulescu secured the patent rights for his method of manufacturing pancreine on April 10 1922 by the Romanian Ministry of Industry and Trade – patent no. 6254.
As a young student, Paulescu developed an interest in the arts and in the natural, physical, and chemical sciences. In 1888 he went to Paris to study medicine, and three years later he took a post as a nonresident medical student at the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris. There he worked with French physician Étienne Lancereaux, who was the first to suggest that diabetes mellitus originated in the pancreas, and with French scientist Albert Dastre, who had studied with Claude Bernard, the renowned physiologist who discovered the role of the pancreas in digestion.
In 1901, after having received a degree in medicine (1897) and doctorates in physiology (1898) and the natural sciences (1899) from the University of Paris, Paulescu returned to Romania, where he joined the faculty of medicine at the University of Bucharest.
There he undertook studies in experimental physiology and in 1903 published with Lancereaux Traité de Médecine, Nosologie (“Treaty of Medicine, Nosology”), the first of a four-volume series on disease and physiology (the other three volumes were published in 1906, 1912, and 1930). Several years later, Paulescu published a paper in which he described a new procedure for the surgical removal of the pituitary gland that favoured improved patient survival. Paulescu’s research inspired subsequent work by American neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing, who later gained international acclaim for his research on the pituitary.
In 2002 the Paulescu Institute (a diabetes research institute) was inaugurated, and a statue of Paulescu was unveiled at the University of Bucharest. In 2003 a ceremony scheduled for the unveiling of a bust of Paulescu in Paris that had been organized by the French minister of health and the Romanian ambassador in Paris was protested by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization. Although Romanian authorities opposed the complaint, the ceremony was canceled.