April 23, 1873-February 18, 1944
By John B. West
Yandell Henderson made important contributions to cardiorespiratory physiology over a broad area with a particular emphasis on practical applications such as resuscitation, air pollution, mine safety, and aviation medicine. Although his initial training was in biochemistry, he early turned to cardiovascular physiology, including the output of the heart, venous return, and shock. His interest in high-altitude physiology was sparked when, with J. S. Haldane of Oxford University, he helped to organize the Anglo-American Pikes Peak Expedition of 1911. His involvement with high-altitude physiology remained throughout his life and he subsequently studied the blood changes with acclimatization, work capacity at extreme altitude, and problems in aviation medicine. Issues of mine safety prompted his interest in carbon monoxide poisoning, resuscitation, and ventilation standards for long vehicular tunnels. He made an early plea for recognition of clinical physiology as a discipline and contributed to the physiology of anesthesia and asphyxia in the newborn. Henderson's emphasis on applied physiology has gone out of fashion (which may partly explain why this memoir is fifty years late), but his philosophy that one of science's main responsibilities is to the human condition will find a resonance in many quarters.