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William Francis Ganong

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 06 March 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:564
  1. Jeanne Lenzer

Pioneering neuroendocrinologist and author of the classic textbook on medical physiology

William Francis Ganong, a pioneer in neuroendocrinology, made several seminal contributions to medicine. He helped to elucidate the control mechanisms of aldosterone and the neural control of the renin-angiotensin system, and was a co-discoverer of the Lown-Ganong-Levine syndrome. His touchstone book, Review of Medical Physiology, in its 22nd edition, has been translated into 18 languages and is used by medical students (and students of physiology) around the globe.

Ganong was raised in an academic family—his father was a renowned biologist and his mother a geologist. He enrolled in Harvard College in 1941, planning to become a lawyer in the hope of pursuing a career in public administration. But after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, he was drafted into the army, where he was enrolled in a special premedical programme that allowed him to receive his bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1946 while still in the army.

At the end of the second world war he returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he earned his MD from Harvard in 1949. After working for two years as a …

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