By: Robert Schrage
Originally published: December 25, 2008 in the Boone County Recorder
Dr. George Speri Sperti was born in January of 1900, just 17 days after the turn of the Century. He attended the public schools of his home town of Covington, KY. His parents, George and Caroline were Italian Immigrants. Sperti graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1923 from the University of Cincinnati. Immediately his talents and intellect were well respected and he began conducting scientific research and trying to create inventions while still a student. He invented a device to measure electrical consumption that he sold for $30,000. Beginning a long history of philanthropy, he donated the money to research.
Upon his graduation, Dr. Sperti continued research and was named the Director of the UC Basic Science Research Laboratory. While there his process for using ultraviolet wavelengths increased the vitamin D content of milk. He sold this patent to General Mills for $300,000, donating the money to the Laboratory. During this time, Dr. Sperti began buying land south of Burlington and eventually accumulated a farm of approximately 600 acres.
Sperti's main goal in life was searching for a cure for cancer. To help search for this cure, in 1935, Sperti left the University and co-founded the Divi Tomae Institute with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Named after St. Thomas Aquinas, the Institute under Dr. Sperti had tremendous success. Over the years, he conducted research that led to many products known today. Dr. Sperti invented the sunlamp, Sperti Ointment for burns, and Preparation H. His process using yeast for improvement of animal feed and another process resulting in frozen orange juice concentrate were also very successful. Other contributions include a process for sterilization of food products, detoxification of vitamins, tenderization of meat, and he was the discoverer of biological substances (Biodynes) that regulate cell metabolism. He produced cancer medicines. All of these inventions and improvements resulted in patents that provided a tremendous revenue stream. He continued to use the money to run the laboratory.
In Burlington, his Boonetucky Farm became nationally recognized for its champion cattle and at the farm he conducted research and experiments. Over his years Dr. Sperti accumulated at least 120 patents.
Dr. Sperti died in 1991 at the age of ninety-one. Three years earlier, the Institute he founded closed its doors. The Gunpowder Creek Nature Trail lies on part of the old Sperti Farm and most of the remainder is now a subdivision. In his life, Dr. Sperti had a tremendous impact on cancer care and many other aspects of our lives. He is clearly one of the greatest Boone Countians and his impact is felt worldwide.