Professor Michael Field was born in London (U.K.) in 1933. He obtained his BA from the University of Chicago in 1953 and MD from Boston University in 1959. After completing his training in internal medicine and gastroenterology, he assumed several positions at universities and medical centers in the United States. For many years, he served as Professor of Gastroenterology and Pharmacology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, where he also chaired the Department of Internal Medicine and directed research and post-graduate studies. He is currently Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia.
Professor Field took the concepts of basic sciences to the bedside of those afflicted with diarrhea and developed effective measures to prevent consequent debility and death. He also contributed significantly to studies elucidating the chemical mechanisms by which cholera and other pathogenic bacteria toxins cause diarrhea by stimulating the intestine to secrete excessive amounts of salt instead of absorbing it. Working in collaboration with Professor William Greenough III of Johns Hopkins University, they were able to show that cholera toxins increased adenylate cyclase activity and the secretion of adenosine mono-phosphate, leading to increased loss of fluids and ions through the intestinal mucous membrane. They also discovered two of the toxins produced by Escherichia coli and conducted studies on the hormonal relations associated with intestinal functions. This work stimulated rigorous research worldwide on the secretory mechanisms of the intestine and the pathogenesis of diarrhea and led to the development of new drugs for treating bacterial diarrheas and reducing their complications.
Professor Michael Field received several awards, including the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine jointly with Fordtran and Greenough III. He is the editor of Diarrheal Diseases; Current Topics in Gastroenterology (New York Elsevier) and member of the American Physiological Society, American Gastroenterological Association, American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.