Edward Calvin Kendall was born in South Norwalk, Connecticut. He was educated at Columbia University, where he obtained his B.S. in 1908, his M.S. in 1909, and his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1910. From 1910 to 1911 Kendall was a research chemist for Parke-Davis and Company in Detroit, Michigan, doing research on the thyroid gland, and from 1911 to 1914 he continued this work at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City. Kendall was then appointed head of the biochemistry section of the graduate school of the Mayo Foundation, and in 1915 he was appointed director of the division of biochemistry there and subsequently professor of physiological chemistry. In 1951, Kendall accepted the position of visiting professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Princeton University, which he held until his death in 1972.
Kendall's name is most commonly associated with his isolation of thyroxine. He is also known for his crystallization of glutathione and for his work on oxidation systems in animals. Perhaps his greatest achievement, however, was his work on the hormones of the adrenal glands, from which he isolated, identified, and synthesized the hormones of the adrenal cortex. Among these hormones was cortisone, which is now widely used in the treatment of many diseases and for the suppression of inflammatory reactions. Kendall, along with Tadeus Reichstein and Philip Showalter Hench, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1950 for work on the adrenal hormones. Some of Kendall's research was featured in a Journal of Biological Chemistry Classic (1).
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Kendall received the American Public Health Association's Lasker Award, the Passano Foundation's Passano Award, the Newspaper Guild of New York's Page One Award, and the American Medical Association's Scientific Achievement Award. He served as president of the American Society of Biological Chemists in 1926 and the Endocrine Society from 1930 to 1931.
1. Simoni, R. D., Hill, R. L., and Vaughan, M. (2002) The isolation of thyroxin and cortisone: The work of Edward C. Kendall. J. Biol. Chem. 277 (21)