Born near Cleveland, Ohio, in 1857, John Jacob Abel received a Ph.B. (Bachelor of Philosophy) from the University of Michigan in 1883 and his M.D. from Strasbourg in 1888. In 1893, after further training from Henry Newell Martin of the Johns Hopkins University and at various European University, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recruited Abel to start a department of pharmacology becoming first full-time professor of pharmacology in the United States.
Among the most notable legacies of Abel's work is his research on adrenalin, insulin, and an apparatus that is widely regarded as a forerunner of the artificial kidney.