Presented by the University Archives of the University Libraries, with the Department of Biochemistry of Virginia Tech
Fifty-Year Celebration of the Department of Biochemistry

Ruben W. (Charlie) Engel
"John Lee Pratt and Nutritional Biochemistry"
Interview by G.E. (Ed) Bunce

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Engel: This takes me back in history again because a farmer in Virginia by the name of John Lee Pratt had a herd of cattle with which he had disease problems, and he had called upon Virginia Tech to help him with his disease problems through the Agricultural Extension Service. Mostly the school responded to Pratt's request by sending veterinarians, and the veterinarians were quite convinced that his disease problems were a disease unrelated to nutrition. However, he was convinced that the situation was otherwise, and he wanted consultations from nutritional biochemists.

On one of his visits to Virginia Tech, I learned later from Roddy Young, who was one of the staff men in agricultural chemistry when I arrived and son of the director of the [Agricultural] Experiment Station [Harold Newell Young], that, at a meeting with Mr. Pratt, Dr. Young the director of the experiment station had to tell him we do not now have on the faculty a nutritional biochemist who could be of help to you. To this Mr. Pratt responded, "Why don't you get one?"

Bunce: A logical response.

Engel: And this is in my view one of the reasons I was invited to come to Virginia. At any rate that part of the background meant that I had to start thinking about establishing a relationship with the animal science people on campus, if we were going to support work on cattle and ruminant nutrition. At this time I. D. Wilson, the head of biology, was looking for an addition to his faculty to support this operation. Again he came to me and said, "Why don't you go and interview this young man that I have in mind? His name is Ed Moore, and he's up at Penn State."

So Ken King and I both went to Penn State to interview Ed Moore, and we both liked him, so he became a member of the biology department to support work on ruminant nutrition. Now remember this was about the time that we decided we had to put a fistula into a steer so we could easily get in to see what was going on in the rumen.

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Last Updated on: Friday, 04-Apr-2003 15:02:47 EST by Mark B. Gerus