Darby, William J. (1913-2001)

 Digital Record
Identifier: 989
Darby, William J. (1913-2001)


  • 1945 - 2007

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Historical or Biographical Note

Vanderbilt professor William J. Darby (1913-2001) was considered one of the leading nutrition researchers of the 20th century. As a scientist, Dr. Darby made significant contributions to our knowledge of human requirements for protein, iron, folic acid, and zinc. As a teacher and mentor, he enriched the lives of many generations of students. As a consultant to major charitable foundations he channeled significant funding to nutrition education and research projects.

Dr. Darby was born in Galloway, Arkansas, on November 6, 1913. He graduated with a M.D. from the University of Arkansas, and then a fellowship took him to the University of Michigan, where he obtained a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry. Dr. Darby came to Vanderbilt in 1942 as a Special Fellow in Nutrition of the International Health Division of The Rockefeller Foundation. The following year he moved to North Carolina, where he served as Director of Nutrition for the State Board of Health and taught at Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He returned to Vanderbilt in 1944 as Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Medicine. Dr. Darby became Chair of the Department of Biochemistry in 1949 and served in this position until 1971. Dr. Darby worked to obtain the outside funding that led to the establishment of the first separate identifiable nutrition unit in an American medical school. In 1972 William Darby was elected a member of the prestigious National Academy of Science and became President of the Nutrition Foundation.

Dr. Darby served as a very active Honorary Curator for the History of Medicine Collection in the Eskind Library while in retirement. His passion for old books began in his graduate student days in the early 1940s. One of Dr. Darby's early and enduring collecting interests was the history of scurvy. His research interests and travels influenced his book collecting. As a result, he collected works on nutritional problems such as goiter, anemia, protein deficiency, pellagra, and kwashiorkor.

For more information and pictures please see the VUMC Online Biography of William J. Darby or the Obituary of Dr. Darby in the VUMC Reporter.

Language of Materials



Biographical file includes curriculum vitae, biographical data, correspondence, reprints, writings, photographs, and newspaper clippings.

Repository Details

Part of the VUMC Historical Images and Biographies Repository

Eskind Biomedical Library
2209 Garland Ave.
Nashville TN 37232


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