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Paul H. Müller

Paul H. MüllerAKA Paul Hermann Müller

Born: 12-Jan-1899
Birthplace: Olten, Switzerland
Died: 12-Oct-1965
Location of death: Basel, Switzerland
Cause of death: Natural Causes

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Scientist

Nationality: Switzerland
Executive summary: Synthesized DDT

Paul H. Müller synthesized dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and showed that it was an effective insecticide. He was the first person to win a Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology who was not a medical doctor, and one of the first whose work was primarily in a corporate, rather than an academic environment. Before attending college, Müller worked for two years as a lab assistant in the chem lab of an electric company, and after obtaining his PhD he spent his career at the J. R. Geigy Dye Factory, now a part of the interconnected Novartis-Ciba-Sandoz-Chiron corporate structure.

DDT, used to control mosquitoes spreading malaria, typhus, and other diseases, undoubtedly saved countless lives, but the compound was also used widely as an agricultural insecticide. Years later, biologist Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring pointed out the environmental dangers of DDT. More than a billion pounds of the chemical had been poured and sprayed into the environment by the late 1960s, and DDT had worked its way into the fatty tissues of virtually every species of living thing on earth, from field mice to polar bears. DDT was banned for most uses in America in 1969, and in most other developed nations it has been banned from agricultural uses. In developing countries, DDT is still used to fight insect-borne diseases.

Father: (railroad worker)
Wife: Friedel Rüegsegger Müller (m. 1927)
Son: Heinrich Müller (b. 1929)
Son: Niklaus Müller (b. 1933)
Daughter: Margaretha Müller (b. 1934)

    High School: (1916)
    University: PhD, University of Basel (1925)

    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1948
    Geigy (1925-65)

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