Undoubtedly, the Nobel Prize represents the ultimate recognition of a scientist's work. Utrecht University counts twelve Nobel Prize winners among its former and current staff, one of them being Christiaan Eijkman (1858-1930). In 1929, he received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his research into the importance of vitamin B1. Between 1898 and 1928, Eijkman was professor at Utrecht University.
In 1890, Eijkman discovered that the coat of unpolished rice could cure the tropical beriberi disease. He made this discovery in the Dutch East Indies, where he worked as a doctor. Apart from being a doctor, he was also director of the laboratory of a military hospital, which had been established for beriberi research. At some time, the laboratory chickens had become ill and their symptoms resembled those of beriberi. It appeared that the hospital cook had fed the chickens leftover cooked rice. A new cook discarded this habit as nonsense and fed the chickens unpolished, uncooked rice, which is chicken feed, after all. The animals recovered very quickly and that is how Eijkman discovered the relationship between the coat of unpolished rice and beriberi. More than thirty years later, his successors managed to trace and isolate the beriberi healing vitamin B1 from products in which it is found. They gave Eijkman the honourable title of 'recalcitrant father of vitamins'.