Birthplace: Basford, Nottinghamshire, England
Location of death: Brighton, East Sussex, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: Theory of reflex action
English physiologist, born on the 18th of February 1790, at Basford, near Nottingham, where his father, Robert Hall, was a cotton manufacturer. Having attended the Rev. J. Blanchard's academy at Nottingham, he entered a chemist's shop at Newark, and in 1809 began to study medicine at Edinburgh University. In 1811 he was elected senior president of the Royal Medical Society; the following year he took the M.D. degree, and was immediately appointed resident house physician to the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh. This appointment he resigned after two years, when he visited Paris and its medical schools, and, on a walking tour, those also of Berlin and Göttingen. In 1817, when he settled at Nottingham, he published his Diagnosis, and in 1818 he wrote the Mimoses, a work on the affections denominated bilious, nervous, etc. The next year he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in 1825 he became physician to the Nottingham general hospital. In 1826 he removed to London, and in the following year he published his Commentaries on the more important diseases of females. In 1830 he issued his Observations on Blood-letting, founded on researches on the morbid and curative effects of loss of blood, which were acknowledged by the medical profession to be of vast practical value, and in 1831 his Experimental Essay on the Circulation of the Blood in the Capillary Vessels, in which he showed that the blood-channels intermediate between arteries and veins serve the office of bringing the fluid blood into contact with the material tissues of the system. In the following year he read before the Royal Society a paper "On the inverse ratio which subsists between Respiration and Irritability in the Animal Kingdom." His most important work in physiology was concerned with the theory of reflex action, embodied in a paper "On the reflex Function of the Medulla Oblongata and the Medulla Spinalis" (1832), which was supplemented in 1837 by another "On the True Spinal Marrow, and the Excito-motor System of Nerves." The reflex function excited great attention on the continent of Europe, though in England some of his papers were refused publication by the Royal Society. Hall thus became the authority on the multiform deranged states of health referable to an abnormal condition of the nervous system, and he gained a large practice. His "ready method" for resuscitation in drowning and other forms of suspended respiration has been the means of saving innumerable lives. He died at Brighton of a throat affection, aggravated by lecturing, on the 11th of August 1857. A list of his works and details of his "ready method", etc., are given in his Memoirs by his widow (London, 1861).
Father: Robert Hall (cotton manufacturer)
University: University of Edinburgh
Royal Society of Edinburgh 1819
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