rule findings dermatology
accept influence pull some stings
accept ambition dopamine
vitality rattle (2) ambitious
afford transfer send/sent/sent
rickets conduct find/found/found
non discover conventional
gain protein significant
proper purified eat/ate/eaten
claim dismiss experiment
result pack up breakthrough
scholar publish belongings
take up institute preventive
peer bright (2) well received
scurvy research give/gave/given
faulty consume investigate
realize head (3) assignment
cure prevent roughly (2)
ingest substance find/found/found
vital provide chemical compound
contain nitrogen know/knew/known
public gain (2) in order to
role (2) period (2) subject (3)
equally maintain formulate
expect existence concentrate
access grow/grew/grown



At the time of his birth in 1884, Poland was ruled by the Tsar of Russia.

And if you weren’t ethnically “Russian”, gaining access into the public education system was impossible — unless you knew someone who could pull some strings.

Although his father was a respected dermatologist, this wasn’t influential enough.

So Kazimierz Funk was home-schooled by his mother until he was finally accepted into the secondary school in his hometown.

Studying Abroad

Funk was an ambitious, intelligent young man, and his parents soon realized the local public school system wasn’t able to provide him with a proper education.

As soon as they could afford it, they sent him to Geneva, Switzerland. There Funk studied chemistry, then transferred to the University of Berlin, where he conducted research on food chemistry — and made a major discovery about proteins.


Funk found that when one group of animals was fed non-purified proteins, all gained significant weight. However, the group that ate purified proteins did not.

His discovery rattled conventional thinking; especially that of his Professor, who claimed Funk’s experiment was faulty. And he dismissed the results.

So in 1911, Funk packed up his belongings and moved to London, where he took up the position of a scholar at the Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine. It was there that he first published his studies on how dopamine works within the human body.


Funk’s paper was well received among his peers. And so the head of the institute, Charles Martin, gave Funk his next scholarly assignment: investigating the connection between disease and what foods people ate.

And it’s with this research that Funk made another breakthrough. He realized that some diseases, such as rickets and scurvy, could be cured or prevented if a person ingested the right amount of bio-chemicals found in certain food substances.


But in order to write his new paper on these substances, he needed to call them something. He needed a name . . . one that made sense, was easy to pronounce, and even easier to remember.

The name Funk selected first appeared in his 1912 research paper titled, “Vital-Amines,” with vital meaning vitality and “amines,” for the chemical compound containing nitrogen. The “e” was dropped in 1920’s and the word became what we known as vitamins.

Further Work

It took the public almost 25 years to accept Funk’s findings on vitamins, and the role they play in a person’s health. But that period he continued doing more research on the subject.

In fact, Funk found that other vitamins, such as B1, B2, B3, C, and D, were equally helpful to maintaining good health. He even formulated one of the first vitamin concentrates that are still in existence. Though controversial, the vitamin supplement market has grown into a major industry.

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1. In the 1800s, all children had access to good public schooling. True or false?

2. Did Kazimierz Funk attend a local school and a regional university?

3. Funk studied psychology and philosophy. Is this right or wrong?

4. Did he only have to deal with scientific issues (and problems)?

5. What were some of Funk’s major discoveries?

6. How did the word “vitamin” originate? What is the etymology of the word “vitamin”?

7. Has Funk’s research largely been forgotten?


A. Where I live, everyone has equal access to good quality education. Yes or no?

B. Do you know any research scientists? What do they study or investigate?

C. Is the vitamin and nutritional supplement industry very large? Are vitamins and nutritional supplements rigorously promoted, marketed and advertised?

D. What can we learn from Dr. Funk?

E. What might happen in the future?

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