Ernest H. Volwiler
Born Aug 22 1893 - Died Oct 3 1992
Thiobarbituric Acid Derivatives
Pentothal / Anesthesia
Patent Number(s) 2,153,729
Ernest H. Volwiler and Donalee L. Tabern discovered the general anesthetic Pentothal, one of the most important agents in modern medicine.
He and Tabern discovered Pentothal in 1936 when they were seeking a substance which could be injected directly into the blood stream to produce unconsciousness. For three years the two men screened over 200 compounds, eventually arriving at a sulfur-bearing analogue of Nembutal. Induction was smooth, pleasant, free of muscle twitching, and notably lacking in delirium or frightening psychic effects. It could be used for minor procedures requiring anesthesia or for more prolonged procedures, being administered before ether.
The uses of Pentothal are legend. Few agents in medicine have played such an outstanding role in improving the well-being of generations of patients.
Born in Hamilton, Ohio, Volwiler received his elementary education in the Ohio public school system. He received an A.B. from Miami University in 1914 and from the University of Illinois received an M.A. in 1916 and a Ph.D. in 1918. He also was awarded a number of honorary degrees.
After earning his Ph.D., Volwiler joined Abbott Laboratories. There he became director of research in 1930, was promoted to vice president in 1933, to executive vice president in 1946, to president in 1950, to chairman of the board in 1958, and he became chairman of the board of Abbott Laboratories International in 1959.
Volwiler invented a number of patented drugs.