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A Century of Heparin

Ann Thorac Surg. 2019 Sep;108(3):955-958

The year 2018 was the centennial of the naming of heparin by Emmett Holt and William Howell and the 102nd anniversary of Jay McLean’s discovery of an anticoagulant heparphosphatide at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

The year 2018 was the centennial of the naming of heparin by Emmett Holt and William Howell and the 102nd anniversary of Jay McLean’s discovery of an anticoagulant heparphosphatide at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. This article discusses recently discovered historical artifacts that shed new light on heparin’s christening, including McLean’s unpublished letter written in 1950 that represents one of the most complete accounts of heparin’s discovery before his untimely death. In addition, the article describes the finding of a plaque dedicated to McLean and explores the circumstances of its removal from public display, as learned from interviews with present and former staff members.

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