Joseph Erlanger

About Joseph Erlanger

Who is it?: Physiologist
Birth Day: January 05, 1874
Birth Place: San Francisco, United States
Alma mater: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Awards: Nobel Prize in Medicine (1944)
Notable students: Herbert Spencer Gasser

Joseph Erlanger

Joseph Erlanger was born on January 05, 1874 in San Francisco, United States, is Physiologist. Joseph Erlanger was a renowned American physiologist who conducted extensive studies in the field of neuroscience. His most important works include the discovery of a variety of nerve fiber, the determination of the relation between a nerve fiber diameter and action potential velocity and the development of the modified Western Electric Oscilloscope as well as an adapted version of the sphygmomanometer. After completing his graduation in Chemistry, he went on to pursue studies in medicine and completed his M.D degree from John Hopkins University in 1899. Though initially, he focused on cardiology, later he shifted his area of study to neuroscience and conducted several notable studies in the field. He began his career at the John Hopkins University and later shifted to the University of Wisconsin in 1906. Here he began his association with Herbert Spencer Gasser which lasted until 1931 and as a result of their partnership several critical inventions and discoveries were made in the field of neuroscience. They were jointly presented with the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1944 for ‘their discoveries relating to the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibers’.
Joseph Erlanger is a member of Physicians

Does Joseph Erlanger Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Joseph Erlanger has been died on December 5, 1965(1965-12-05) (aged 91)\nSt. Louis, Missouri.

🎂 Joseph Erlanger - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When Joseph Erlanger die, Joseph Erlanger was 91 years old.

Popular As Joseph Erlanger
Occupation Physicians
Age 91 years old
Zodiac Sign Aquarius
Born January 05, 1874 (San Francisco, United States)
Birthday January 05
Town/City San Francisco, United States
Nationality United States

🌙 Zodiac

Joseph Erlanger’s zodiac sign is Aquarius. According to astrologers, the presence of Aries always marks the beginning of something energetic and turbulent. They are continuously looking for dynamic, speed and competition, always being the first in everything - from work to social gatherings. Thanks to its ruling planet Mars and the fact it belongs to the element of Fire (just like Leo and Sagittarius), Aries is one of the most active zodiac signs. It is in their nature to take action, sometimes before they think about it well.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Joseph Erlanger was born in the Year of the Dog. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Dog are loyal, faithful, honest, distrustful, often guilty of telling white lies, temperamental, prone to mood swings, dogmatic, and sensitive. Dogs excel in business but have trouble finding mates. Compatible with Tiger or Horse.

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Erlanger was born on January 5, 1874, at San Francisco, California. His family was Jewish and his parents both immigrated from the Kingdom of Württemberg, Germany and met in California during the Gold Rush. Joseph was the sixth of seven children born to the couple. He completed his Bachelor of science in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1895. He then completed his M.D. in 1899 from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, where he finished second in his class.


Upon graduating, Erlanger interned at Johns Hopkins Hospital under William Osler and worked in a physiology laboratory. Erlanger also gave lectures at the school on digestion and metabolism. Erlanger also had an interest in cardiology, specifically the way that excitation transferred from the atrium to the ventricle and researched with Arthur Hirschfelder. Erlanger developed and patented a new type of sphygmomanometer that could measure blood pressure from the brachial artery. While working at Johns Hopkins in 1901, Erlanger published a paper on the digestive systems of canines. This paper caught the attention of william Henry Howell, a physiology professor at Johns Hopkins. Howell recruited Erlanger as an Assistant Professor. Erlanger was promoted to Associate Professor some time before 1906.


In 1906, Erlanger accepted a position as the first chair of physiology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In 1910, he left to take a position as professor at Washington University in St. Louis; the St. Louis position offered Erlanger more funding for his projects. Herbert Spencer Gasser, Erlanger's former student at Wisconsin, joined Erlanger's laboratory soon after the move. During World War I, the pair contributed to the research effort examining the effects of shock. As part of this work, Erlanger was able to produce heart block in an animal model by clamping the bundle of His and tightening it. Together, they managed to amplify the action potential of a bullfrog sciatic nerve in 1922 and published the results in the American Journal of Physiology. It is uncertain why the pair had such a sudden shift in interest to neuroscience, as Erlanger was already widely respected in the cardiology field.


He died of heart disease on December 5, 1965 at St. Louis, Missouri. The Joseph Erlanger House in St. Louis was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 8, 1976 as a building of national significance. On January 22, 2009, the International Astronomical Union named a crater on the moon after him.


Erlanger and Gasser were able to modify a Western Electric oscilloscope to run at low voltages. Prior to this modification, the only method available to measure neural activity was the electroencephalograph, which could only show large-scale electrical activity. With this Technology, they were able to observe that action potentials occurred in two phases—a spike (initial surge) followed by an after-spike (a sequence of slow changes in potential). They discovered that neurons were found in many forms, each with their own potential for excitability. With this research, the pair discovered that the velocity of action potentials was directly proportional to the diameter of the nerve fiber. The partnership ended in 1931, when Gasser accepted a position at Cornell University. In 1944, they won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for these discoveries.

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