Charles Glenn King, who was president of the American Society of Biological Chemists in 1954, was born in Entiat, Washington. He attended Washington State University and received his B.S. in chemistry in 1918. He then departed for the University of Pittsburgh, earning his M.S. there in 1920 and his Ph.D. in 1923. He remained in Pittsburgh as professor until 1942, when he left to become the scientific director and president of the Nutrition Foundation in New York City. King retired from the foundation in 1963, became associate director of the Institute of Nutrition Sciences at Columbia University, and served as a part-time consultant to the Rockefeller Foundation and to various United Nations agencies.
King was best known for his work on the isolation and identification of vitamin C, for which he used preparations from lemon juice to study antiscorbic activity in guinea pigs. Albert Szent-Gyorgi was conducting similar research at Cambridge University, focusing on hexuronic acid. Within 2 weeks of each other, in 1932, first King and then Szent-Gyorgi published articles declaring that vitamin C and hexuronic acid were the same compound. King later established the functional role of vitamin B, and throughout his 40-year research career made many significant contributions in the areas of lipids, enzymes, and vitamins.
In addition to his work with the Nutrition Foundation, King's public service activities involved creation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant, Soil, and Nutrition Laboratory in Ithaca, New York, and the establishment of the Food and Nutrition Board. He also helped create the Food Protection Committee, the Recommended Dietary Allowances, the Protein Advisory Group, and the International Union of Nutritional Sciences. He served on the Advisory Council to the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases.