William Eugene Cornatzer was born on September 23, 1918, in Mocksville, North Carolina to William P. and Stella (Vogler) Cornatzer. W. E. Cornatzer attended Mars Hill College from 1935-1937, before transferring to Wake Forest College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree on May 27, 1939. He received a Master of Science degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, on June 10, 1941, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree on August 13, 1944, also from UNC. Cornatzer married Margaret Virginia Freeman on March 30, 1946. Cornatzer graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree from Wake Forest Bowman Gray School of Medicine on June 11, 1951.
Later that year, Cornatzer and his wife moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota where he began his teaching and research career at the University of North Dakota. He organized the Department of Biochemistry and was chair of the department. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Human Nutrition Lab.
Cornatzer was a member of 14 national science committees including the North Carolina Chapter of the Society of the Sigma Xi, The Royal Society of Medicine, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry, and the American College of Physicians. He served as the director of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry from 1960- 1966, helped provide examination test guidance to the National Board of Medical Examiners, and was a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Nutrition from 1975-1979.
Cornatzer has written numerous publications, and has contributed his research to six medical textbooks. His research focuses on quinine metabolism and absorption, radiation effects, lipotropic agents, phospholipid metabolism, and the toxicity of isotopes.
Because of Cornatzer's exceptional research and service in biochemistry, he has received many national and international awards. He received the Silver Medal Group One award for a scientific exhibit and the Frank Billing award for original investigation from the American Medical Association, both in 1951; the University of North Carolina School of Medicine Distinguished Service Award on May 1, 1970; and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Bowman Gray School of Medicine on October 29, 1976. He was named a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, UND Outstanding Scientific Researcher, and Golden Apple Outstanding Professor. He is also listed in Who's Who in North Dakota, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in the World. In 1980, an endowed chair was named after him at the UND Medical School, "honoring his long years of service and contributions to UND and to biochemistry." On May 10, 1992, UND presented Cornatzer with an Honorary Doctor of Science degree.
William Cornatzer died on September 16, 2004, in Huntsville, Alabama.
Newer Trace Elements in Nutrition by W. E. Cornatzer, 1971.
Clinical Application of Laboratory Tests by W. E. Cornatzer, 1986.
Role of Nutrition in Health and Disease by W. E. Cornatzer, 1989.
The William E. Cornatzer Papers contain Cornatzer's publications and his membership certificates and awards. An oversized folder contains oversized awards and certificates along with his diplomas.
Two books were separated from the Cornatzer Papers. Newer Trace Elements in Nutrition, published in 1971, was placed in the North Dakota Book Collection. Role of Nutrition in Health and Disease, published in 1989, was placed in the circulating collection at the Chester Fritz Library. A copy already exists in the North Dakota Book Collection, in addition to Cornatzer's Clinical Application of Laboratory Tests, published in 1986.