Image of a cell

Harry Eagle

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For his research in the development of reproducible conditions for the growth in culture of human and animal cells.

Throughout his medical career, Harry Eagle developed treatments for a wide range of diseases, including cancer and venereal diseases. But he is best known for significantly improving biological research on cells.

But Eagle’s most significant scientific contribution came while he was working at the National Institutes of Health in 1959, when he developed a method for growing human and mammalian cells in a laboratory. Before Eagle developed his minimum essential medium, cells were grown in undefined media, which prevented specific experimental analysis of cells. Eagle’s medium allowed for greater research of cancer, genetic disorders and viruses.

Eagle’s other achievements include improving chemotherapy for cancer, discovering blood clotting is caused by enzymes and developing a treatment for arsenic poisoning.

During his career, Eagle also made contributions to treating venereal diseases. In the 1940s, he developed a diagnostic test for syphilis and identified uses for penicillin in treating syphilis and gonorrhea.

By Jacob Kerr