College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Animal & Avian Sciences

Mary Shorb Lecture in Nutrition

Mary Shorb's reputation rests on her key studies that led to the discovery of vitamin B12, the last vitamin to be discovered. Prior to 1926, 50,000 patients were dying annually in the U.S. from pernicious anemia, a disease caused by malabsorption of vitamin B12 .

Pernicious anemiais caused by a lack of intrinsic factor secretion in the stomach, a protein required for vitamin B12 absorption. In 1926, it was found that raw liver was an effective, albeit distasteful, treatment for pernicious anemia. However, the amount of raw liver required was nearly one pound daily. This led to the pursuit by several pharmaceutical firms to isolate the anti-pernicious anemia factor in liver.

After joining the Bureau of Dairy Industry USDA at Beltsville as a microbiologist in 1944, Mary began work with the bacteria, Lactobacillus lactis Dorner (LLD). LLD was being used to make yogurt and other cultured dairy products. Mary developed a microbiological assay for LLD that required tomato juice and liver extract in the culture medium. No one knew why the culture required liver extract. Mary suggested that the LLD assay could be used for isolation of the anti-pernicious anemia factor in liver.

Left without a job at USDA after the return of male scientists who were veterans from World War II, Mary was provided an unpaid position and laboratory space in the Poultry Science Department at the University of Maryland. In 1947, Mary was provided with an initial $400 grant to develop the LLD assay in a collaborative project with Karl Folkers from Merck. The LLD assay allowed for rapid isolation of the anti-pernicious anemia factor that led to the purification and characterization of Vitamin B12 by Karl Folkers and coworkers at Merck in 1948 (read Folkers memoirs). For this discovery, Mary Shorb and Karl Folkers were co-recipients of the Mead Johnson Award from the American Society of Nutritional Sciences in 1949.

Mary Shorb grew up in North Dakota (Biography from Maryland Commission for Women). After graduating from the College of Idaho, she obtained a Sc.D. in Immunology from Johns Hopkins University in 1933. During her time at the University of Maryland as a volunteer, she developed the LLD assay for the quantitative determination of Vitamin B12. Subsequently, Dr. Shorb was appointed as a Professor at the University of Maryland, in the College of Agriculture from 1949 to 1972. An endowment from Merck was established in 1968 to honor and perpetuate her legacy through the annual Mary Shorb Lectureship in Nutrition at The University of Maryland.

Honors:

1988  Century Scientist Award, Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station Centennial Celebration
1988  Woman of the Year Award, Prince Georges County, Maryland
1987  Inducted Maryland Woman’s Hall of Fame
1978  Honorary Degree of Science, College of Idaho
1966  Distinguished Alumnus Award, College of Idaho 
1957  Sigma Xi Research Award
1951  Outstanding Woman of the Year, Hood College
1949  Mead Johnson Award of the American Society of Nutritional Sciences
1948  Hematology Research Foundation Award

Publications:

Shorb, M. S. (1947). Unidentified Essential Growth Factors for Lactobacillus-Lactis Found in Refined Liver Extracts and in Certain Natural Materials. Journal of Bacteriology 53, 669-669 (.pdf).

Shorb, M. S. (1947). Unidentified Growth Factors for Lactobacillus Lactis in Refined Liver Extracts. Journal of Biological Chemistry 169, 455-456 (.pdf

Shorb, M. S., and Briggs, G. M. (1948). The Effect of Dissociation in Lactobacillus-Lactis Cultures on the Requirement for Vitamin-B12.Journal of Biological Chemistry 176, 1463-1464 (.pdf).

Shorb, M. S. (1948). Activity of Vitamin-B12 for the Growth of Lactobacillus-Lactis. Science 107, 397-398 (.pdf).

Menge, H., Combs, G. F., and Shorb, M. S. (1949). Evidence for an Unidentified Chick Growth Factor in the Presence of Vitamin-B12.Poultry Science 28, 775-775.

Bishop, R. W., Shorb, M. S., and Pelczar, M. J. (1952). Evidence for an Unidentified Growth Factor Required by Microbacterium - Flavum.Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 81, 407-410.

Menge, H., Combs, G. F., Hsu, P. T., and Shorb, M. S. (1952). Unidentified Growth Factors Required by Chicks and Poults .1. Studies with Chicks Using Purified Diets. Poultry Science 31, 237-247.

Romoser, G. L., Shorb, M. S., Combs, G. F., and Pelczar, M. J. (1952). Effect of Antibiotics and Diet Composition on Cecal Bacteria and Growth of Chicks. Antibiotics and Chemotherapy 2, 42-50.

Romoser, G. L., Shorb, M. S., and Combs, G. F. (1952). Studies on Mechanism of Antibiotics in Promoting Chick Growth. Poultry Science31, 932-932.

Shorb, M. S. (1952). Growth-Promoting Activity of L-Lyxoflavin for Lactobacillus-Lactis. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 79, 611-614.

Romoser, G. L., Shorb, M. S., and Combs, G. F. (1953). Effect of Orally Administered Penicillin-Resistant Microorganisms on Growth of Chicks. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 83, 17-21.

Shorb, M. S., and Veltre, F. A. (1953). Properties of an Unidentified Growth Factor for Lactobacillus-Bifidus Isolated from Chicks and Poults. Poultry Science 32, 924-924.

Veltre, F. A., Shorb, M. S., and Pelczar, M. J. (1953). Nutritional Requirements of Lactobacillus-Bifidus Isolated from Poults and Chicks.Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 83, 284-286.

Shorb, M. S., and Veltre, F. A. (1954). Distribution and Properties of an Unidentified Growth Factor for Avian Lactobacillus-Bifidus.Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 86, 140-145.

Shorb, M. S., Hansen, M. L., and Sowter, D. D. (1954). The Effect of Arsenicals on Cecal Bacteria from Chicks. Poultry Science 33, 1080-1081.

Arscott, G. H., Shorb, M. S., and Boggs, U. (1955). Effect of Vitamin-B12 and Antimetabolites of Vitamin-B12 on Chick Hatchability.Poultry Science 34, 986-988.

Boggs, U., and Shorb, M. S. (1956). The Toxicity of 1, 2-Dichloro-4, 5-Diaminobenzene and Benzimidazole Analogues for Chick Embryonic Development and Partial Reversal by Vitamin-B12. Poultry Science 35, 1133-1133.

Blackwood, U. B., and Shorb, M. S. (1958). Relationship of Vitamin-B12 to 1,2-Dichloro-4,5-Diaminobenzene and 2-Ethyl-5-Methylbenzimidazole in the Chick Embryo. Poultry Science 37, 1185-1186.

Blackwood, U. B., and Shorb, M. S. (1958). Lethal Effect of Certain Benzimidazoles and Benzenes on Early Chick Embryo. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 99, 232-235.

Shorb, M. S., and Lund, P. G. (1958). Fatty Acid and Other Requirements of Trichomonas-Gallinae. Journal of Protozoology 5, 15-16.

Wilcox, F. H., and Shorb, M. S. (1958). The Effect of Antibiotics on Bacteria in Semen and on Motility and Fertilizing Ability of Chicken Spermatozoa. American Journal of Veterinary Research 19, 945-949.

Shorb, M. S., and Lund, P. G. (1959). Requirement of Trichomonads for Unidentified Growth Factors, Saturated and Unsaturated Fatty Acids. Journal of Protozoology 6, 122-130.

Lund, P. G., and Shorb, M. S. (1960). Steroid Requirements of Trichomonads. Journal of Protozoology 7, 5-6.

Shorb, M. S., Walker, H. M., and Keene, O. D. (1960). Lack of Effect of Egg Yolk in the Diet on the Development of Rous Sarcoma in the Chick. Poultry Science 39, 409-417.

Lund, P. G., and Shorb, M. S. (1962). Steroid Requirements of Trichomonads. Journal of Protozoology 9, 151- .

Norman, A., and Shorb, M. S. (1962). In Vitro Formation of Deoxycholic and Lithocholic Acid by Human Intestinal Microorganisms.Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 110, 552- .

Pollard, W. O., Shorb, M. S., and Creek, R. D. (1963). Alkaline Phosphatase, Feathering and Bone Ash in Chicks as Affected by Hemin.Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 112, 478-480.

Pollard, W. O., Shorb, M. S., and Creek, R. D. (1963). Histology of Osteodystrophy in Hemin Treated Chicks. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 112, 480-483.

Shorb, M. S., Pollard, W., Vasaitis, V., Lund, P. G., and Smith, C. (1963). Effect of Thalidomide Treatment of Hens on Embryonic Development and Fertility. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 113, 619- .

Pollard, W. O., Shorb, M. S., Lund, P. G., and Vasaitis, V. (1964). Effect of Triparanol on Synthesis of Fatty Acids by Tetrahymena Pyriformis. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 116, 539- .

Shorb, M. S., Pollard, W. O., and Dunlap, B. (1964). Squalene Non-Sponifiable Component in Tetrahymena Pyriformis Inhibited with Triparanol. Journal of Protozoology 11, 25- .

Shorb, D. A., and Shorb, M. S. (1964). Lipids of Male + Female Swine Kidney Worm Stephanurus Dentatus. Journal of Parasitology 50, 56- .

Shorb, M. S., Dunlap, B. E., and Pollard, W. O. (1965). Effect of Triparanol on Synthesis of Squalene and Tetrahymanol by Tetrahymena Pyriformis. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 118, 1140- .

Knuese, W. R., and Shorb, M. S. (1966). Light Induced Changes in Tetrahymena Pyriformis. Journal of Protozoology S 13, 12- .

Lund, P. G., and Shorb, M. S. (1966). Growth of Mycoplasma Gallisepticum Strain J without Serum. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 121, 1070- .

Shorb, M. S., Knuese, W. R., and Pollard, W. O. (1966). Lipid Synthesis in Tetrahymena. Journal of Protozoology S 13, 12- .

Lund, P. G., and Shorb, M. S. (1967). Lipoic Acid Requirement of Mycoplasma Species Avian Strain J. Journal of Bacteriology 94, 279- .

Fulk, W. K., and Shorb, M. S. (1970). Production of an Artifact During Methanolysis of Lipids by Boron Trifluoride-Methanol. Journal of Lipid Research 11, 276- .

Knuese, W., and Shorb, M. S. (1971). Lipids of Male and Female Ascaridia-Galli at Different Ages. Journal of Parasitology 57, 840-

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