Who discovered Heparin?

Who discovered Heparin? Was it Jay McLean, the student? Or was it its teacher, William Howell? What is clear is that, 100 years ago, that scientific discovery Made his mark on the history of medicine forever.

Dr. Bernardo Romero, cardiovascular surgeon Trias i Pujol University Hospital

Heparin is a substance that was discovered by accident like many of the major discoveries in science and medicine. In fact it was a medicine student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore who discovered there was a substance that stopped blood from coagulating.

Dr. Robert Linhardt, biochemist Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

It was a medical student, a young medical student who discovered heparin; Jay McLean working for Professor Howell.

Dr. James Marcum, philosopher and medical historian Baylor University

McLean was given a project by Howell to look for substances that actually promoted or facilitated blood coagulation.

Dr. Robert Linhardt, biochemist Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

And he found this extract that he added to the blood, prevented blood from clotting.

Dr. James Marcum, philosopher and medical historian Baylor University

The scientific community looked to the person who has really the seniority and Howell really did the work.

Dr. Robert Linhardt, biochemist Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The person who made the first observation was certainly Jay McLean.

Dr. James Marcum, philosopher and medical historian Baylor University

Mc Lean was part of that process but really not the focal point for the discovery. And the scientific community sees it.

Dr. Robert Linhardt, biochemist Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

I think anything that has success has many parents and so it became immediately obvious that heparin would be really important.

Other stories from Heparin

View all stories from Heparin

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  • 09 January 2018

Despite being a centenary drug, heparin remains as one of the essential drugs of medicine and especially of modern surgery but, in addition, possible applications in malaria, cancer or fertility are being investigated.

  • Story
  • 16 November 2017

The use of heparin in pregnancy is increasingly common to avoid thromboembolic complications, abortions or delays in fetal growth. In this story, Monica tells us how thanks to heparin, she was able to bring her third pregnancy to term.

  • Story
  • 19 October 2017

Since its foundation in 1975, Bioiberica has been focused on the production of heparin. The company understood that it was an active ingredient indispensable for human health and that it was important to be able to offer the maximum guarantees of safety and traceability. Today, one out of every five heparin doses administered worldwide has been developed and manufactured by Bioibérica.