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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WOOD, HARLAND GOFF - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WOOD, HARLAND GOFF (2 Sept. 1907-12 Sept. 1991), internationally known scientist and the first director of the Department of Biochemistry at the School of Medicine, CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY (CWRU, 1946-67), proved in 1935 that animals (including humans) and bacteria utilized carbon dioxide. His lifelong research into this revolutionary discovery changed traditional understanding of cell biology and improved the treatment of diseases such as diabetes which involve the metabolism. Wood was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1953) and received the National Medal of Science (1989), among numerous other honors; Nobel prize winners gathered in Cleveland for his 77th and 80th birthdays. Wood was born in Delavan, MN, to Inez Goff and William Clark Wood and was educated at Macalester College in St. Paul (B.A., 1931) and Iowa State College (Ph.D., 1935). Before coming to CWRU, he taught Bacteriology at Iowa State University (1936-43), earning him the Eli Lilly Award from the Society of American Bacteriologists, and taught Physiology at the University of Minnesota (1943-46).

Among the first scientists to use radioisotopes in cell biology, Wood ingeniously isolated them in a stair well. He took his research to various parts of the world on Fulbright fellowships and published copiously, serving as editor of the Journal of Biological Chemistry (1949-54). At CWRU, after leaving the chair of biochemistry, Wood was Dean of Sciences (1967-69), the first University Professor (1970-78), and professor emeritus (1978-91). He served on the advisory board of the AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY (1965-69), on the President's Science Advisory Committee (1967-71), and as a council member of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1967-76, secretary general, 1970-73).

Wood married Mildred L. Davis in Minnesota in 1929 and remained happily married for more than six decades; they had 3 daughters, Louise Lake, Beverly Abram, and Donna McCutcheon Pleasants. Wood was an avid hunter and learned to ski at age 55. Wood is buried in Minnesota. CWRU's School of Medicine renamed the Medical School Building and established an annual memorial lecture in Wood's honor.

Primary Sources

Wood, H. G. "My Life and CO2 Fixation," in Miami Winter Symposia: The Molecular Bases of Biological Transport, ed. J. F. Woessner, Jr., F. Huiging, pp. 1-54 New York: Academic Press, 1972.

Wood, H. G. "Then and Now" Annual Review of Biochemistry 54: 1-41 (1985)

Secondary Sources

Singleton, R. Jr., "Heterotrophic CO2-fixation, Mentors, and Students: The Wood-Werkman reaction," S. J. Hist. of Biol. 39, (1996): 91 - 120.

Singleton, R. Jr. "Harland Goff Wood: An American Biochemist," in Comprehensive Biochemistry: History of Biochemistry, Volume 40, (G. Semenza & R. Jaenicke, Editors) Amsterdam:, Elsevier, 1997.

Singleton, R. Jr. 1998. "A passion for the laboratory: Harland Goff Wood and American Biochemistry." CenterViews (CWRU: Center for Biomedical Ethics), Winter 97/98: 1 & 5 - 6.

Singleton, R. Jr. "Wood, Harland Goff" in New Dictionary of Scientific Biography (Noretta Koertge, Editor), New York: Charles Scribner's Sons (In press, 2007).

Last Modified: 12 Nov 2007 02:47:29 PM

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