32 No. 3
Johann Heller: Pioneer of Clinical Chemistry
The laboratory analysis of blood, urine, and other bodily fluids to quantify the presence of physiologically significant substances constitutes the subject matter of what is indistinctly known as clinical chemistry, clinical biochemistry, or chemical pathology. Despite humble beginnings in the mid-19th century, it is now a mature and sophisticated science and an essential tool in medical diagnosis and the treatment and prevention of many diseases. Interestingly, the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC), the umbrella organization that looks out for the interests of clinical chemists worldwide, originated from IUPAC in 1952 and eventually became one of its most vibrant and active Associated Organizations.
The stamp illustrated in this note was issued by the Austrian Postal Service on 31 August 1981 to recognize the 11th International Congress on Clinical Chemistry that took place in Vienna at that time. It features a portrait of Johann Florian Heller (1813–1871), a chemist and pioneer of urinalysis, best known for his ring test for the detection of albumin in urine upon addition of concentrated nitric acid. Although Heller was not the first to observe the formation of a precipitate between urinary proteins and nitric acid, he correctly interpreted the result and refined the test, first reported in 1852, exactly 100 years before the founding of the IFCC.
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