One of the greatest and most influential biologists of the 18th century, Swiss scientist Albrecht von Haller is often credited as the “father of experimental physiology”. His contributions ranged across anatomy, physiology, embryology, botany and poetry.
Early Life and Career:
Born in Bern, Switzerland, in 1708, Albrecht von Haller, as a child prodigy, wrote several metrical translations from Ovid, Horace and Virgil when he was hardly fifteen. He studied the form and function of one organ after the other, launching anatomy as an experimental science, and also enforcing dynamic rules to the study of physiology.
Haller analyzed the irritability of muscle and the sensibility of nerves, studying circulation time and the automatic action of the heart. He was the first to give a detailed explanation of respiration.
His publication “Elementa Physialogiae Carports Hamani” (Elements of Physiology, 1757-66) proved to be one of the influential works on the subject. Haller consistently broadened the field of anatomy, relating it to physiology by experimentation, and implemented dynamic rules to complex physiological problems.
The approach of Albrecht von Haller was precise, analytical and objective. He was the first person to discover that only nerves produce sensation and only those parts of the body connected to the nervous system can undergo a sensation. Probably his most notable contribution was the formulation of the method of physiological research.
Later Life and Death:
Albrecht von Haller’s health began substantially declining after 1773. He died on December 12, 1777. He was 69 years old.