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Walther H. Ott

by Susan J. Ainsworth
March 7, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 10

Walther H. Ott, 99, a retired Merck & Co. animal nutritional biochemist, died on Dec. 25, 2010, in Bridgewater, N.J.

Born in Hermiston, Ore., Ott received a B.S. in poultry husbandry in 1934 and an M.S. in animal nutrition in 1936, both from Oregon State College (now Oregon State University). He earned a Ph.D. degree in agricultural and biological chemistry from Pennsylvania State College (now Pennsylvania State University) in 1942. For his thesis work, Ott obtained some of the first preparations of crystalline pantothenic acid from the vitamin’s discoverer, Roger J. Williams, and used it to determine the amount required by the laying hen for maximal egg hatchability.

Ott spent his entire 34-year career with Merck, where he directed programs in animal nutrition, physiology, parasitology, and veterinary pathology. Having an extensive knowledge of statistical methods and experimental design, he applied biometry to bioassays. He made key contributions to Merck’s efforts in the discovery of vitamin B-12. He also aided in the discovery and patenting of the use of penicillin, bacitracin, and ronidazole as growth promoters in farm animals, and he studied antiparasitic agents and other factors for improving the growth and health of farm animals.

Ott, who authored or coauthored 102 scientific publications, retired as a senior scientist in 1976. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1941. He was active in the African Violet Society of America.

Ott was preceded in death by his wife, Maxine, and his son, Roger. He is survived by daughters Ruth Arthur and Arline Cox, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

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