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Gobley, Nicolas-Théodore

Gobley, Nicolas-Théodore

(b. Paris, France, 11 May, 1811; d. Bagnères-de-Luchon. France, 1 September 1876)

chemistry.

As a youth Gobley was apprenticed to the eminent pharmacist and chemist Pierre Robiquet, whose son-in-law he later became. After studying pharmacy in Paris and completing an internship in hospital pharmacy, in 1837 he purchased a pharmacy on the rue du Bac, which he directed until 1861. Despite heavy professional obligations, Gobley found time for chemical pursuits and in due course achieved a reputation as a distinguished chemist. From 1842 to 1847 he served as professeur agrégé at the School of Pharmacy, and from 1850 until his death he was a member of the editorial board of the prestigious Journal de pharmacie et de chimie. In 1861 he was elected to the Academy of Medicine, and in 1868 he was named a member of the Council on Hygiene and Health of the Department of the Seine.

Gobley collaborated with the physiologist J. L. M. Posieuille in a study of blood levels of urea and its secretion from the kidneys, the results of which were published in 1859. He invented an instrument called the élai03és most significant work concerned the chemistry of phosphatides. He investigated the fatty matter in egg yolk, milt and fish eggs, venous blood, bile, and brain tissue: and in 1845 he discovered a fatty substance containing phosphorus which in 1850 he named lecithin (from the Greek lekithos, egg yolk). Gobley was unable to elucidate the exact chemical composition of lecithin, which he obtained in impure form, but he noted that its hydrolysis yielded fatty acids as well as glycerophosphoric acid. In 1844 Gobley found phosphorus in oil from the ray’s liver and recommended this oil as a more palatable substitute for cod liver oil.

Gobley collaborated with the physiologist J. L. M. Poiseuille in a study of blood levels of urea and its secretion from the kidneys, the results of which were published in 1859. He invented an instrument called the élaïomètre to test the purity of oils by determining their density and first described the device in 1843. He also carried out research on biliary calculi and vanillin.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. A listing of Gobley’s scientific papers is in the Royal Society of London, Catalogue of Scientific Papers (1800–1863), II (London, 1868), 924–925; VII (London, 1877), 790; X (London, 1894), II; and in A. Goris, Centenaire de l’internat en pharmacie des hôpitaux et hospices civils de Paris (Paris, 1920), pp. 404–405. Gobley’s most important publications are “Note sur l’élaïomètre, nouvel instrument d’essai pour les huiles d’olives,” in Journal de pharmacie et de chimie, 3rd ser., 4 (1843), 285–297; “Mémoire sur l’huile de foie de raie,” ibid., 5 (1844), 306–310; “De la présence du phosphore dans l’huile de foie de raie,” ibid., 6 (1844), 25–26; “Sur l’existence des acides oléique, margarique et phosphoglycérique dans le jaune d’oeuf,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séandces de l’Académie des sciences, 21 (1845), 766–769; “Recherches chimiques sur le jaune d’oeuf,” in Journal de pharmacie et de chimie 3rd ser., 9 (1846), 1–15, 81–91, 161–174; 11 (1847), 409–417; 18 (1850), 107–119; “Recherches chimiques sur la laitance de carpe,” ibid., 19 (1851), 406–421; “Recherches chimiques sur les matières grasses du sang veineux de l’homme,” ibid., 21 (1852), 241–254; “Recherches sur la nature chimique et les propriètès des matières grasses contenues dans la bile,” ibid., 30 (1856), 241–246; “Recherches sur le principe odorant de la vanille,” ibid., 34 (1858), 401–405; “Examen chimique d’un calcul biliaire, suivi de considérations sur les différentes phases de sa formation, et sur les meilleurs dissolvants des calculs biliaires,” ibid., 40 (1861), 84–91; “De l’cation de l’ammoniaque sur la lécithine,” ibid., 4th ser., 12 (1870), 10–13; “Sur la lécithine et la cér;ébrine,” ibid., 19 (1874), 346–354; “Recherches chimiques sur le cerveau,” ibid., 20 (1874), 98–102, 161–166; and “Recherches sur l’urée,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des science, 49 (1859), 164–167, written with J. L. M. Poiseuille.

II. Secondary Literature. For additional information on Gobley’s life and work, see “Discours prononcé par M. le Dr. Delpech, au nom de l’Académie de médecine,” in Journal de pharmacie et de chimie, 4th ser., 24 (1876), 329–333; Centenaire de l’École supérieure de pharmacie de l’Université de Paris, 1803–1903 (Paris, 1904), p. 348; E. Bourquelot, Le centenaire du Journal de pharmacie et de chimie, 1809–1909 (Paris, 1910), pp. 71–72; J. R. Partington, A History of Chemistry, IV (London-New York, 1964), 485; and D. L. Drabkin, Thudicum, Chemist of the Brain (Philadelphia, 1958), p. 173.

Alex Berman

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