The beginnings of Mayo Clinic

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By Richard P. Holm, MD

William Worrall Mayo had a curious and remarkable life, which included influencing the development of the prestigious Mayo Clinic. He was the descendant of famous English chemist John Mayow, who in 1668 first discovered spiritus nitroaereus, a component of air that would later be known as oxygen. W.W. Mayo was born in England in 1819 and before moving westward to the Americas, Mayo would study under John Dalton, the scientist best known for developing modern atomic theory.

Mayo left for New York City to work as a pharmacist but soon moved west to attend medical school. He first trained in Indiana but finished his medical degree in Missouri. There, he was troubled with recurrent bouts of malaria, which he blamed on the southern heat. This brought him to move north to Minnesota for a healthier climate.

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