George Gomori - Histochemist


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Gyorgy Gömöri - George Gomori

Gyorgy Gömöri was born on 16 July 1904 in Budapest, Hungary. It is not known who his parents were, only that his mother's maiden name was Braum. He studied medicine in Budapest, graduating in 1928, and gaining a place at the University of Budapest in pathology and surgery.

In 1938 he emigrated to the United States where he joined the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago Medical School. The following year he married Margaret Kerekes née Singer in Chicago. Margaret Singer was born in Gyor, Hungary in 1904, the daughter of David and Helen Singer. She had come to the US in 1923 with her parents. Margaret was first married to Dr. Joseph Kerekes (1889-c.1957), a Hungarian born physician/surgeon from Budapest who emigrated to the US in 1922, but they were divorced in 1938. There was one child from their marriage, Clara Gertrude Kerekes, who was born c.1926. There was no issue from the marriage of George Gomori and Margaret Kerekes née Singer.

Dr. Gomori became a professor at remained at University of Chicago Medical School in 1949 and remained in the post until 1 October 1956 when he and Margaret moved to Palo Alto in California to be nearer her grandchildren. Clara Kerekes had become a dermatologist and anaesthesiologist, and had married and moved to California. In Palo Alto Dr Gomori worked at the Palo Alto Clinic.

Early in his career in Hungary in 1933 Dr Gomori became interested in histologic methods of studying bone, which lead to his major interest in histochemistry. His influence in the field of histochemistry in the 20th century has been as great as anyones.
Note: Histology - the study of the microscopic structure of tissue. Histochemistry - the chemistry of living tissue.
Dr. Gomori developed a method of localising hydrolytic enzymes, in particular the phosphatases, the phosphamidases, and the esterases. He also contributed important papers on organic radical identification in histochemistry. One of the main things he is remembered for today is his staining proceedures - his chrome haematoxylin and aldehyde fuchsin stains for identifying pancreatic islet cells.

Dr Gomori wrote "Microscopic Histochemistry: Principles and Practice" published 1952 by the University of Chicago Press, which became one of the standard texts of histochemistry. Gomori said of histochemistry that it was a hybrid discipline "a borderline between histology and analytical chemistry or biochemistry". He was one of the organisers of the Histochemical Society formed in 1950 and served on its' first council, he also served as Vice President of the society in 1956, and was elected President for 1957. He was a regular at society meetings and enjoyed participating in the discussions. He became an Associate Editor of the Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry.

In addition to his scientific interests he was a scholar of the Greek Classics and of the New Testament. Dr. George Gomori died suddenly of an acute coronary attack on 28 February 1957 in Santa Clara, California.

In his obituary in the Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry, R.D. Lillie said of him "To those few who were privileged to work under him as students of histochemistry he was an inspiring leader and kindly advisor, even long after their departure from the University of Chicago. In like wise he gave unstintingly of him advice and comments on the works of others who consulted him".

In 1987 The Histochemical Society brought in the George Gomori award to honour Dr Gomori and to recognize outstanding contributions to the field of histochemistry and cytochemistry. It is the highest award given by the society and is presented every four years at their annual general meeting, in the year immediately preceding the meeting of the International Federation of Societies for Histochemistry and Cytochemistry. The award consists of a solid silver medallion with names of founders of The Histochemical Society inscribed on back, and inscription to the recipient on the front; a cash prize of $1000; and an award plaque.

The following four basic histochemical reactions were developed by Dr. Gomori:

  1. Silver impregnation of reticular fibres (1937)

  2. Metal salt principle for detection of hydrolytic enzyme activity (1939)

  3. Silver-methenamine reaction (1946)

  4. Aldehyde fuchsin reaction (1950)

These reactions and their modifications have been very important in shaping histochemistry as we know it today.

Histological Stains

The following are stains developed by Dr. George Gomori and some of their modifications.

Gomori silver impregnation stain - a reliable method for reticulin, as an aid in the diagnosis of neoplasm and early cirrhosis of the liver. The staining solution employs silver nitrate, potassium hydroxide, and ammonia water carefully prepared to avoid having silver precipitate.

Gomori one-step trichrome stain - a connective tissue stain using haematoxylin and a dye mixture containing chromotrope 2R and light green or aniline blue. Muscle fibres appear red, collagen is green (or blue if aniline blue is used), and nuclei are blue to black.

Left is a photo of a muscular artery stained using Gomori's one step trichrome. Collagen and nerve cells have stained blue. Muscle, elastic fibers and blood stained red. Cytoplasm of cells stained red. Nuclei stained purple.

The stain can be used to differentiate fibrous or nerve tissue from muscular tissue.

Gomori one step trichrome stain

Gomori methenamine silver stain - (for argentaffin cells) a methenamine silver solution used together with gold chloride, sodium thiosulfate, and a safranin O counterstain; argentaffin granules are black while granules of mast cells remain red.


Gomori methenamine silver stain

Grocott-Gomori methenamine-silver stain - a modification of the Gomori methenamine-silver stain. Used for demonstrating actinomycetes and fungi in tissue. Sections of tissue are pretreated with chromic acid, then stained with a methenamine-silver nitrate solution, and then counterstained with light green solution. The fungal cells appear black-brown against a pale green background.

Above is an example of the Gomori methenamine silver stain showing skin from a punch biopsy taken from the groin of a patient suffering from Tinea cruris, or ringworm of the groin (commonly known as jock-itch). The most common causative organism of Tinea cruris is the fungi Trichophyton rubrum. In the picture the fungal elements appear black against the blue/green of the tissue.

Gomori non-specific alkaline phosphatase stain - a calcium-cobalt sulfide method using frozen sections or cold acetone, or formalin-fixed paraffin sections, plus sodium ß-glycerophosphate as a substrate at pH 9–9.5 with Mg2+ as activator; calcium ions precipitate the liberated phosphate, cobalt salt replaces the calcium phosphate, and ammonium sulfide converts the product to a black cobalt sulfide.

Gomori chrome alum haematoxylin phloxine stain - a technique used to demonstrate cytoplasmic granules, after Bouin or formalin-Zenker fixatives, using oxidized haematoxylin plus phloxine. In the pancreas, beta cells are blue, alpha and delta cells are red, and zymogen granules are red to unstained; in the pituitary, alpha cells are pink, beta cells and chromophobes are gray-blue, and nuclei are purple to blue.

Gomori-Takamatsu stain - used for histological demonstration of enzymes, especially phosphatases and lipases in sections; also methods for demonstration of connective tissue fibers and secretion granules.

Gomori-Wheatley trichrome stain - a rapid staining method which demonstrates the structural details of various intestinal protozoa.

If you wish to make contact then please email me .

Journal of Histochemistry & Cytochemistry, May 1957; 5: 203, George Gomori 1904-1957, by R.D. Lillie.
C. JoeAnne Biffle's postings to the Gomery Rootsweb mailing list from January 2004.
Information on the stains from, Drug information online, and Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary.
Photo of Gomori one step trichrome stain from Special Stains webpage of the Surgical Pathology Laboratory section of the Louisiana State University Medical Center
Last revised: 12 October 2006
© Linda Hansen 2006