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Education and trainingEdit
Albright was born in Buffalo, New York. "Fuller" was his mother's maiden name. He entered Harvard College at seventeen. After graduating cum laude three years later he entered Harvard Medical School. While he initially took an interest in obstetrics and orthopedic surgery, the discovery of insulin attracted him to internal medicine, specifically the study of metabolism. After his internship at Massachusetts General Hospital he embarked on a one-year programme of research with Joseph C. Aub, mainly into calcium metabolism and lead poisoning. He was subsequently assistant resident to Dr Warfield Longcope at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he performed numerous experiments (often without realising their significance), together with his friend John Eager Howard. Finally he spent a year in Vienna with pathologist Prof Jakob Erdheim.
In the early 1930s he returned to Boston, where he became a member of the staff of Massachusetts General Hospital. He married Claire Birge in 1933; they had two sons. At MGH he rapidly developed an endocrinology research group.
Work at MGHEdit
Albright is credited with numerous discoveries in medicine. He described polyostotic fibrous dysplasia (later eponymically called McCune-Albright syndrome), the clinical and pathological features and different types of hyperparathyroidism (excessive production of parathyroid hormone by the parathyroid glands), the mechanism of Cushing's syndrome, renal tubular acidosis (inability of the kidneys to regulate the acid-base balance in the body), and recognised the importance of menopause on osteoporosis. He also delineated forms of congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
He was the president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (1943-1944), the Association for the Study of Internal Secretions (1945-1946) and the Endocrine Society (1946-1947). In 1955 he was elected to the National Academy of the Sciences.
Illness and deathEdit
He developed Parkinson's disease in 1937. By 1956 his symptoms were so intractable that he underwent experimental brain surgery, chemical pallidotomy (obliteration of the globus pallidus by injection of alcohol). The intervention on the right was a success, but the left-sided procedure was complicated by haemorrhage, which left him aphasic and comatose for the remaining 13 years of his life, during which he was nursed at Massachusetts General Hospital.
- The Fuller Albright Papers can be found at The Center for the History of Medicine at the Countway Library, Harvard Medical School.
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