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Herbert S. Gasser

Herbert S. GasserAKA Herbert Spencer Gasser

Born: 5-Jul-1888
Birthplace: Platteville, WI
Died: 11-May-1963
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: Respiratory failure

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Scientist, Doctor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Nerve conduction

Working closely with his mentor, Joseph Erlanger, Herbert Spencer Gasser researched the conductivity rates of different nerve groups. Their work advanced scientific knowledge about the workings of pain and of reflex action, and Gasser and Erlanger shared the Nobel Prize in 1944.

During World War I Gasser was involved in chemical warfare research at American University in Washington DC, and during World War II he researched nitrogen mustard agents. He also studied muscular contraction with Archibald V. Hill and, working with Henry Dale, researched muscle sensitivity to nicotine and acetylcholine.

Gasser never married, and his social life was comprised mostly of long, enthusiastic conversations with colleagues about scientific matters. In the preface to their jointly written book Electrical Signs of Nervous Activity, Gasser and Erlanger wrote of a vacation they took together in the Rocky Mountains where, "viewing the panorama of lofty peaks spread out before us, our conversation turned to problems of nerve physiology".

Father: Herman Gasser (physician)
Mother: Jane Elisabeth Griswold Gasser

    High School: State Normal School, Platteville, WI (1906)
    University: BA, University of Wisconsin at Madison (1910)
    University: MS, University of Wisconsin at Madison (1911)
    Medical School: MD, Johns Hopkins University (1915)
    University: Pharmacology, University of Wisconsin (1915-16)
    Teacher: Pharmacology, Washington University in St. Louis (1916-21)
    Professor: Pharmacology, Washington University in St. Louis (1921-23, 1925-31)
    Scholar: University College London (1923-25)
    Professor: Physiology, Cornell University (1931-35)
    Administrator: Rockefeller University (1935-53)

    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1944 (with Joseph Erlanger)
    National Academy of Sciences
    American Philosophical Society
    American Physiological Society
    Royal Society
    Austrian Ancestry
    Italian Ancestry

Author of books:
Electrical Signs of Nervous Activity (1937, with Joseph Erlanger)


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