Oscar D. Ratnoff

Case Western Reserve University

August 23, 1916 - May 20, 2008

Scientific Discipline: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology
Membership Type:
Member (elected 1976)

Hematologist Oscar Ratnoff outlined the biochemical cascade that induces blood coagulation. By examining samples of blood that exhibited both normal and abnormal clotting, he was able to isolate the plasma protein, factor XII, in the normal sample. He deduced that the proteins and lipids present in the bloodstream initiate in a cascading reaction to produce fibrin—an insoluble protein important in coagulation—which binds to blood cells to form a clot. In addition, he pioneered an accurate method for detecting classical sex-linked hemophilia. This research has also broadened our understanding of the biochemical basis of inflammation.

Ratnoff graduated from Columbia University in 1936 and earned his MD at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1939. He was a resident at the research service for chronic disease at Goldwater Memorial Hospital, Columbia University, and an assistant in medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons from 1942 to 1946. After completing his fellowship in medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1948, he was an instructor in bacteriology there until 1950. In 1952 he moved from the Mt. Sinai Hospital of Cleveland to the University Hospital of Cleveland, where he served as director of the division of hematology. He was also a professor of medicine at Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

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