Justus von Liebig (1803-1873)

Credits:Wellcome Library, London.

Until the 1800s, universities were teaching institutions, not places for scientific research. Laboratories were set up by private individuals or by scientific societies and academies. The German chemist Justus von Liebig founded the first university-based research laboratory at the University of Giessen in central Germany. This laboratory was highly successful, and became the model for similar laboratories in universities around the world.

Liebig's own research investigated the chemical aspects of nutrition, and the application of chemistry to medical disciplines such as physiology and pathology. In the course of his work on nutrition, Liebig also developed a highly popular extract of meat as a food supplement for the sick and the malnourished poor. It went into mass production when the Liebig Extract of Meat Company Ltd (LEMCO) was founded in 1865. One of its most enduringly successful products, the Oxo cube, is still on sale to this day.