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Christian Archibald Herter

Born  1865
Died  1910

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American physician, born September 3, 1865, Glenville, Connecticut; died December 5, 1910.

Biography of Christian Archibald Herter

Christian Archibald Herter
6/17: Herter graduated MD. at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, in 1885. He continued his studies with William Henry Welch (1850-1934) at the Johns Hopkins University as well as in Germany and France, and with Auguste-Henri Forel (1848-1931) in Zurich.

He returned to the United States and initially practised medicine primarily as a neurologist. In 1892 he wrote «The Diagnosis of Diseases of the Nervous System». He soon became interested in biochemical approaches, however, and in 1893 had the upper floor of his house remodelled so that he could carry out laboratory work.

Herter investigated the role of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and developed techniques for measuring their products such as indol. He was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) to examine the possible effects of sodium benzoate in its use in food preservatives and from the investigation concluded that it was perfectly safe. From 1898 to 1903 he was professor of pathological chemistry at the University of Bellevue Hospital Medical College.

In 1903 he was appointed to the chair of pharmacology and therapeutics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons and remained in that position until he died. He founded the Journal of Biological Chemistry (1905) which was the first journal of this nature in the English language and he was one of the founding trustees of the Rockefeller Institute as well as a founder of the American Society of Biological Chemists (1908).

Herter was interested in painting and in his final years he was troubled with ill health so that he ceased practice, resigning as visiting physician to the New York City Hospital in 1904 after 10 years of service. He founded two lectureships, one at the University and Bellevue Hospital Medical College and the other at Johns Hopkins Medical School, which served to bring scientists from Europe to give lectures.

Despite his ill health he continued to work in his laboratory, but finally died of pneumonia.

    "I like to think of medicine in our day as an ever broadening and deepening river, fed by the limpid streams of pure science. The river at its borders has its eddies and currents, expressive of certain doubts and errors that fringe all progress; but it makes continuous advances on the way to the ocean of its destiny."
    Address at the opening of the medical school at the
    College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1909.


  • The Diagnosis of Diseases of the Nervous System.
    New York and London, 1892.
  • Lectures on Pathology and Its Relation to Practical Medicine.
    Philadelphia, 1902.
  • The Common Bacterial Infections of the Digestive Tract and the Intoxications Arising From Them. New York, 1907.
  • On Infantilism from Chronic Intestinal Infection.
    New York, 1908.
  • Biological Aspects of Human Problems. New York, 1911.
  • R. M. Hawthorne:
    Christian Archibald Herter, M. D. (1865-1910).
    Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 1974, 18 (August): 24-39.
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