Otto Loewi papers
Conditions Governing Access
Loewi received his early training in the German gymnasium where he did poorly in science and mathematics. In 1895, he discovered the bactericidal properties of formaldehyde. Although first trained as a physician, he specialized in pharmacology because, as he stated, it was the science whose main goal was revealing physiologic function by the reactions of living matter to chemical agents. The very concept of using drugs in the study of function was most appealing to Loewi.
His research from 1921-1926 provided the first proof that chemicals elaborated by the nerves were involved in the transmission of impulses from one nerve cell to another and from neurons to the responsive organ. A crucial experiment was one he performed in 1921 when he observed that fluid, transferred from one test tube containing a frog heart whose beat had been inhibited by vagal stimulation to a tube containing a second, unstimulated heart, similarly inhibited the beat of the second heart. The essential substance in the fluid was acetylcholine. The idea originally occurred to Loewi in 1903, but he dropped it until 1920 when he dreamed of the experiment using frogs, which he performed and which proved his theory.
Dr. Loewi emigrated from Austria to the United States in 1940 and became research professor of pharmacology at New York University, New York. He became a citizen in 1946.
1 box plus oversized material and photographs (17" x 11.5" x 3" box)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
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Part of the Marine Biological Laboratory Archives Repository