Edward C. Kendall’s speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, December 10, 1950
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I wish to express my appreciation to the faculty of the Caroline Institute for the invitation to be with you tonight, not as a guest, but in the role of one of the participants.
The year 1950 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Nobel Prize and it is the good fortune of the recipients of the awards this year to be present on this memorable occasion. I hope you will not consider it trivial when I point out that the year 1950 also terminates fifty years of chemical investigation of the adrenal gland. Epinephrine from the adrenal medulla was isolated in 1901. Interest in the adrenal cortex has been world wide and it is significant that Professor Reichstein from Switzerland and Doctor Hench and I from the United States are honored here tonight.
It is also significant that the award is for investigations carried out in the fields of both organic chemistry and clinical medicine. This fact illustrates the complex nature of the problem, for without the work of the chemist, the clinician could not advance beyond the stage of hypothesis, and without the clinician the contributions of the organic chemist could not come to fruition. Now the Caroline Institute has recognized this work and bestowed the Nobel Prize, the highest honor that can come to any man.
Through the work of many investigators we now know that our material welfare depends in large part on the activity of the adrenal cortex and this knowledge, of itself, contributes to spiritual growth and freedom from superstition and fear. These most recent advances are in accord with the hope and vision of that forward looking man whose death is commemorated today – Alfred Nobel.
Prior to the speech, Robin Fåhraeus, member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, addressed the laureate: “Doctor Philip Hench, Professor Edward Kendall and Professor Tadeus Reichstein. Together your researches have contributed to the enlightenment of the extremely complicated physiological chemistry of the suprarenal glands which since their discovery for a long time have been assumed to play no other part than to fill up the vacuum between the kidneys and the diaphragm. Your contributions have already fulfilled the hopes of therapeutic successes in a field hitherto almost inaccessible.”
Their work and discoveries range from how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen to our ability to fight global poverty.
See them all presented here.