» RELATED: Who was Max Born? Google honors Nobel Prize-winning physicist who escaped the Nazis
“She discovered what came to be known as the ‘Wills Factor’ when a laboratory monkey’s health improved after being fed the British breakfast spread Marmite which is made of yeast extract.”
Marmite actually contains nearly 50% of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid per serving, and folic acid, researchers later discovered, was the magic ingredient behind the monkey's recovery. Today, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the manmade form of folate to all women of reproductive age, especially before and during pregnancy.
According to the United States National Library of Medicine, Wills is considered a pioneer for women in medicine and medical research. In addition to her work investigating anemia in pregnancy in India, Wills worked as a nurse during World War I and continued to study nutritional effects on health in South Africa and Fiji after researching iron supplements in pregnant women during World War II.
» RELATED: Who was Seiichi Miyake? Google honors Japanese 'Tenji bricks' inventor
Even in her seventies, Wills "was always a tireless worker," the British Medical Journal wrote following her death in April 1964.
“The excellence of her work on tropical megaloblastic anaemia has long been recognised by nutritionists and haematologists. Every medical student has heard of its cure by her discovery of the Wills factor in yeast extract, which paved the way for the subsequent work on folic acid. It was one of the simple but great observations which are landmarks in the history and treatment of the nutritional anaemias.”
Wills was also quite the adventurer.
“Remembered for her wry sense of humor, Wills enjoyed mountain climbing, cross-country skiing, and rode a bicycle to work rather than driving in a car,” according to the Google blog.
Read more about the pioneer at google.com/doodles.