Joseph Erlanger

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Erlanger, Joseph

(ûr`lăng-ər), 1874–1965, American scientist, b. San Francisco, grad. Univ. of California (B.S., 1895), M.D. Johns Hopkins, 1899. For his contributions to physiology, especially his work on nerve action, he shared with Herbert Spencer Gasser the 1944 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He was professor (1910–46) and (from 1946) professor emeritus of physiology at the medical school of Washington Univ., St. Louis. With H. S. Gasser he wrote Electrical Signs of Nervous Activity (1937).

Erlanger, Joseph


Born Jan. 5, 1874, in San Francisco; died Dec. 5, 1965, in St. Louis. American physiologist. One of the founders of electrophysiology. Member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Erlanger graduated from the University of California in 1895. He taught at the Johns Hopkins University from 1900 to 1906 and was a professor and chairman of the department of physiology at the University of Wisconsin from 1906 to 1910. He served as professor of physiology at Washington University in St. Louis from 1910 to 1946.

Erlanger’s main works dealt with bioelectrical phenomena in nerve cells and fibers. He was the first to use a cathode ray oscillograph and devise techniques for recording the phenomena. He made a major contribution to cardiovascular physiology by using noninvasive methods of recording blood pressure and circulation in the heart. He also investigated heart blocks.

Erlanger shared a Nobel Prize in 1944 with H. Gasser.


Symposium on the Synapse. Baltimore, 1939. (Coauthor.)
Electrical Signs of Nervous Activity. Philadelphia-London-Oxford, 1937. (With H. S. Gasser.)

Erlanger, Joseph

(1874–1965) physiologist, administrator; born in San Francisco. He was an instructor at Johns Hopkins (1900–06), then moved to the University of Wisconsin (1906–10) where he performed experiments on intracardiac nerve impulses. He joined Washington University (St. Louis) (1910–46), where he reorganized its medical school and brought the university to scientific prominence. With former student Herbert Gasser, he modified the cathode-ray oscilloscope to facilitate the two scientists' research on electrophysiology of the nervous system. Erlanger and Gasser were joint winners of the 1944 Nobel Prize in physiology for their work on nerve impulse transmission. Erlanger continued to publish research papers and accounts of the history of physiology after his retirement.