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Life History of Hideyo Noguchi

 Year

 Age

 

 

 1876

 

Born in Inawashiro in Fukushima on November 9 (childhood name: Seisaku)

 

Hideyo Noguchi's birth and his childhood
Hideyo Noguchi was born on November 9, 1876 as the eldest son of a farm family. He was named Seisaku.

He suffered a serious burn on his left hand when he fell onto a fireplace at the age of one and half. He got excellent grades at elementary school with his hard work. He underwent an operation on his left hand by Dr. Kanae Watanabe with support from teachers and friends when he was in Inawashiro Elementary School.

Because of this operation, he determined to be a doctor and became a medical student of Kaiyo Hospital in Wakamatsu. He worked hard day and night to prepare for the National Medical Practitioners Qualifying Examination.

After an operation  the alcove post

Left: Photographed after receiving an operation on his left hand.
Right: Seisaku's determination inscribed on the alcove post of his house: "I shall not return to my native home if I do not achieve my objective."

1878

 2

Suffers a burn to his left hand upon falling onto a fireplace at home in late April

1883

7

Enters Mitsuwa Elementary School

1884

 8

Undergoes an operation on his left hand by Dr. Yukimoto Saito

1887

11

Transfers to the fourth grade of the ordinary course of elementary school in April

 1888

12

Enters the supplementary course of elementary school in April and becomes the student president

 

 

Experiences an eruption of Mt. Bandai on July 15

 

 

Enters Inawashiro Higher Elementary School in April

 1892

16

Undergoes an operation on his left hand by Dr. Kanae Watanabe, head doctor of Kaiyo Hospital in Aizuwakamatsu City in October

 1893

17

Graduates from Inawashiro Higher Elementary School with honors in March

 

 

Joins Kaiyo Hospital in May as a medical student and learns medical science, English and French

 1896

20

Comes to Tokyo in September to take the National Medical Practitioners Qualifying Examination

Time in Tokyo
Seisaku Noguchi came to Tokyo to take the National Medical Practitioners Qualifying Examination in 1896 at the age of 19. He passed the exam and obtained a medical license.

After he became a medical doctor, he worked at Takayama Dental Hospital, Juntendo Hospital, Kitasato Institute and Yokohama Port Quarantine Station. He changed his name "Seisaku" to "Hideyo" at this time. After he was highly evaluated for discovering a plague patient at the quarantine station, he was dispatched to Newchwang, China, as a member of the International Sanitary Board and worked as a health officer. Being good at English and Chinese, he was so appreciated by the local people that they asked him to stay longer.

 Hideyo in a uniform  Certificate

Left: Hideyo in a quarantine medical officer uniform
Right: Certificate of passing the National Medical Practitioners Qualifying   Examination

 

 

Passes the first half of the medical exam in October

 

 

Becomes a working student at Takayama Dental School in November with the support of Dr. Morinosuke Chiwaki

 1897

21

Enters Saiseigakusha medical school in May, and undergoes an operation on his left hand again by Dr. Tsugisige Kondo, Tokyo Imperial University, with the support of Dr. Chiwaki

 

 

Passes the second half of the exam in October and obtains a medical license

 

 

Becomes a lecturer at Takayama Dental School in October

 

 

Begins to work at Juntendo Hospital in November

 1898

22

Renames himself "Hideyo" when he returns to his hometown in August

 

 

Becomes an assistant at Kitasato Institute for Infectious Diseases in October

 1899

 23

Serves as a guide and an interpreter for Dr. Simon Flexner during his visit to Tokyo in April

 

 

Begins to work at Yokohama Port Quarantine Station as a quarantine medical officer in May

 

 

Begins to work at Central Hospital of Newchwang, China under the International Sanitary Board in October

 

1900

 24

Departs from Yokohama, Japan for the United States on December 5

Early period of his stay in the United States
Hideyo Noguchi went to the United States to meet Dr. Flexner, for whom Hideyo had once served as an interpreter while working at Kitasato Institute.
After he was highly evaluated for his study of snake venoms, he got a scholarship to study at Statens Serum Institut in Denmark and learned the basics of bacteriology.

When the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was established, Dr. Flexner was appointed as the director. He employed Hideyo as an assistant at the Institute. Hideyo was nominated for the Nobel Prize for his study of syphilis spirochete and achieved worldwide acclaim. He worked on many studies as a member of the Rockefeller Institute.

 Hideyo in academic gown  Hideyo at the university

Left: Hideyo in an academic gown
Right: Hideyo as an assistant at the University of Pennsylvania

 

 

Arrives at Philadelphia on December 30, and visits Dr. Flexner at the University of Pennsylvania

 1901

25

Becomes an assistant of Dr. Flexner and engages himself in the study of snake venoms

 

 

Presents a paper on snake venoms at the National Academy of Sciences in November

 1902

 26

Becomes a pathology assistant at the University of Pennsylvania in October

 1903

 27

Becomes a research assistant at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in October, and goes to study in Denmark

 

 

Learns at Statens Serum Institut under the instruction of Dr. Thorvald Madsen

 1904

28

Becomes an assistant at Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in October

 1907

31

Awarded a master's degree in science by the University of Pennsylvania in June

 1909

33

Publishes the book Snake Venoms from the Carnegie Institution of Washington

 1910

 34

Publishes the book Serum Diagnosis of Syphilis and the Butyric Acid Test for Syphilis

 1911

35

Awarded a medical doctor's degree by Kyoto Imperial University in February

 

 

Succeeds in growing a pure culture of syphilis spirochete

 

 

Marries Mary Dardis in April

 1912

36 

Receives a letter from his mother, Shika Noguchi, urging him to return to Japan

A letter from his mother
Shika Noguchi, Hideyo's mother, wrote a letter to him in the United States with great effort, recalling the characters she learned in her childhood, to ask him to return to Japan. Feeling undutiful to his parents, Hideyo could not hold back tears on reading this letter.

It was three years later when he could finally return to Japan to see his mother because he had engagements of many studies and lectures at the time.

a letter from his mother
A letter from his mother

 1913

36 

Discovers Treponema pallidum in the brain tissues of patients suffering from general paresis

 

 

 

Goes on a lecture tour in Europe in September, and receives medals from the King of Spain and the King of Denmark

 1914

38 

Awarded a doctorate of science by Tokyo Imperial University in April

 

 

Promoted to full member of the Rockefeller Institute in July

 

 

Nominated for the Nobel Prize

 1915

39 

Awarded the Imperial Prize from the Imperial Academy in April

 

 

Nominated for the Nobel Prize again

 

 

Returns to Japan after fifteen years on September 5. Decorated for Kun Yonto (Fourth Class of Order), and attends lecture meetings and banquets. Takes trips to Tokyo and Kansai areas with his mother .

Returning to Japan after fifteen years away
Hideyo was awarded the Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy in 1915. Dr. Chiwaki received the prize on his behalf. 
Immediately after that, he received a letter encouraging him to return to Japan along with his mother's picture from Saburo Ishizuka, Hideyo's colleague at Takayama Dental School. Shocked to see how his mother had aged, he instantly decided to go home, and returned to Japan for the first time in fifteen years.
During his two-month stay in Japan, he was busy with lectures and welcome parties, but he managed to spend some time with his mother and Mr. and Mrs. Kobayashi, taking them on trips to Tokyo and Kansai areas.

 Hideyo and Shika
Hideyo and his mother Shika
(Yaeko Miyahara (left), Hideyo's mother Shika (the second from the left)、Hideyo (the second from the right), Mrs. Kobayashi (right))
Hideyo and Dr. Watanabe
Hideyo's former teacher Dr. Kanae Watanabe and Hideyo

 

 

Leaves for the United States again from Yokohama on November 4

1918

42 

Dispatched to Guayaquil, Ecuador in June, and discovers the pathogen of yellow fever on the ninth day

Later period of his stay in the United States
Hideyo suffered from typhoid and hovered between life and death in 1917. On recovering, he took a rest at a mountain villa in Shandaken with his wife, Mary.

The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research made a plan to send a research team to Latin America to investigate a raging yellow fever epidemic and called Hideyo for the team.

First, he went to Ecuador. He found the pathogen of yellow fever only nine days after his arrival, and made serum and vaccine, which saved may lives and were appreciated by local people. However, some researchers held doubts about his discovery of the pathogen.

Hideyo in a uniform  Hideyo in Santiago de Guayaquil

Left: Hideyo in an honorary medical officer's uniform
Right: Hideyo landing in Santiago de Guayaquil

 

 

His mother passes away at the age of 65

 1919

 43

Publishes a paper on the pathogen of yellow fever

 

 

Sent to Mexico to study yellow fever in December

 1920

 44

Dispatched to Peru in April

 

 

Dispatched to Mérida, Mexico in November

 

 

Nominated for the Nobel Prize

 1922

 46

Dr. Morinosuke Chiwaki visits the United States in May to research U.S. and European dentistry

 1923

 47

His father passes away at the age of 71 on July 3

 

 

Becomes a member of the Imperial Academy in November

 

 

Dispatched to Brazil in November to study yellow fever

 1924

 48

Attends a conference on tropical diseases in Kingston, Jamaica in July

 1925

 49

Conferred the court rank of Shougoi (senior fifth rank) on November 15

 1926

 50

Publishes a paper on the etiology of Oroya fever

 1927

 51

Publishes a paper on the etiology of trachoma 

 

 

Dispatched to Africa in October to study yellow fever

Death during his study of yellow fever in Africa
The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research set up a research team at Lagos, Nigeria, to take measures against yellow fever in Africa. On learning that his colleague, Dr. Adrian Stokes, a member of the team, passed away from yellow fever, Hideyo decided to go to Africa in October 1927 despite the objections of people around him.

Using more than 400 laboratory monkeys, and extending his originally planned three-month stay to six months, he continued his study on yellow fever. Just when he got some ideas about the cause of yellow fever and was about to leave Africa, he was infected with yellow fever himself and died ten days later. His death was reported all over the world and people were engulfed by grief. 

Hideyo and Dr. Mahaffey
 Dr. Alexander Mahaffey and Hideyo

Cemetary
Hideyo's grave at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.

 1928

 52

Suffers from yellow fever during his research of the disease in Accra, Ghana, and passes away on May 21 at the age of 51

 

 

Awarded Kun Nito (Second Class of Order) and receives the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star

 

 

Laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York on June 15

 

Life history chart provided by The Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Association
English translation by Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Unit

Cabinet Office, Government of JapanHideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Unit
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