© The Nobel Foundation
Herbert Spenser Gasser

American Jewish Recipients of the Nobel Prize

Herbert Spenser Gasser:
Nobel Prize Recipient
by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Herbert Spenser Gasser was an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, in 1944, which he shared with Joseph Erlanger for their discoveries relating to the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibers.

He was born on July 5, 1888, in Platteville, Wisconsin. He was the son of Jane and Herman Gasser, who was a practicing medical doctor. He had a younger brother and sister. He never got married.

Gasser graduated from State Normal High School, 1906. He received Bachelors Degree, in 1910, and his Masters Degree, in 1911, both from the University of Wisconsin, at Madison. He received his M.D. Degree from John Hopkins University, in 1915. After a year of pharmacology at Wisconsin, he went to Washington University, St. Louis, where he was associated with Dr. Erlanger, a Professor of Pharmacology.

During World War I, Gasser was in chemical warfare research at American University, in Washington, D.C. In World War II he did research on the mustard agents, muscular contraction and muscle sensitivity to nicotine and acetylcholine.

• Physiological Society (British) Ordinary Member, 1924
• National Academy of Sciences, 1934
• Director, The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, 1935-1953
• Sociedad Argentina de Biologia, Corresponding Member, 1936
• American Philosophical Society, 1937
• Asociacion Medica Argentina, Honorary Member, 1942
• Asociacion Medica Argentina de Buenos Aires, Honorary Member, 1943
• Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, 1943
• Royal Society of London, Foreign Member, 1946
Royal Swedish Academy of Science, 1946
• Finish Academy of Sciences, foreign Member, 1947 Academie Royale de Belgique, Corresponding Member, 1947 American Society of Electroencephalography, Honorary Member, 1947
• American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1948 Accademia della Scienz dell’ Istituto di Bologna, Italy, Honorary Member, 1948
• Physiological Society, British, 1949
• Societe Philomathique de Paris, Corresponding Member, 1953
• Kober Medal, Association of American Physicians, 1954
• Societe de Biologie College France, Associate Member, 1958
• Sc.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1936
• Sc.D., University of Rochester, 1940
LL.D., Washington University, 1940
• Sc.D., University of Wisconsin, 1941
• Sc.D., Columbia University, 1945
• LL.D., John Hopkins University, 1947
Sc.D., Oxford University, England, 1947
• Sc.D., Harvard University, 1948
• Doctor honoris causa, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, France 1949 Doctor of Medicine, Universite Catholique de Louvain, France, 1949
• Honorique de docteur, University of Paris, France, 1953
• Sc.D., The Rockefeller University, 1959

Herbert Spenser Gasser died on May 11, 1963, in New York City.

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