Hideyo Noguchi (original name Seisaku Noguchi)was a Japanese bacteriologist who is best know for his work on syphilis. He discovered that the agent that causes syphilis is Treponema pallidum. He discovered it inside the brain of a progressive paralysis patient. Noguchi was born in 1876 in Inawashiro, Fukushima, Japan. He was born to humble family of farmers and with limited education. However Noguchi was interested in science from an early age. One interesting fact about him is that during his first years of infancy he experienced a burn to his hand which left him disfigured. He credits hard work for his ability to gain an education and persevere in his field of study.
Hideyo Noguchi’s Career
After graduating from the Saisei Gakusha medical school in 1897, Hideyo traveled to the United States to further his studies. In 1900 he started studying and researching snake venom at the University of Pennsylvania. Afterwards in 1904 Hideyo worked in a laboratory for the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York City where he worked on a vaccine for yellow fever. In 1911 he gained notoriety for his work on syphilis. For this he was also nominated for a Nobel Prize various times. This led to him publishing a book about his findings and also traveling around the world to give lectures on his findings. The following years he traveled through Central and South America trying researching and trying to develop a vaccine for yellow fever. In 1927 Noguchi traveled to Ghana further his research on yellow fever however the following year he would die of yellow fever himself.
Memorials to Hideyo Noguchi
There are various statues and a museum dedicated to him and his legacy. In addition, there is a banknote featuring him. The Japan 1,000 Yen banknote, 2004 contains a portrait of Japanese bacteriologist Hideyo Noguchi on the front design. Noguchi’s discovery in 1911 had shown the cause of the progressive paralytic disease was the agent of syphilis. The reverse side features a beautiful view of Mount Fuji with foothills and also plum blossoms on the side. It contains a watermark image of Noguchi Hideyo which is visible under UV light.