July 5, 1888–May 11, 1963
BY MERRILL W. CHASE AND CARLTON C. HUNT
HERBERT GASSER was a major scientific figure. An outstanding physiologist, he was a pioneer in the field of neurophysiology. In addition, as Director of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research from 1935 until 1953, he exercised an important national and international influence on science. This long-overdue memoir has been written almost thirty years after his death. We both knew him at the Rockefeller Institute and have had access to extensive archival material. Though our information about his early years is limited, Gasser's autobiography (1964), written characteristically with great reserve and in the third person, contains much of interest.
Herbert Gasser was born in 1888 in Platteville, a small town in southwestern Wisconsin. His father, Herman, was an immigrant from the Tyrol, who, after working as a pharmacist, studied medicine and became a practicing physician. His mother, Jane Elizabeth Griswold Gasser, came from a family of early Connecticut settlers. The given names of their first child, Herbert Spencer, stemmed from his father's perusal of books by Wallace, Darwin, and Spencer after