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Victor Henri

Born 1872
Died 1940

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French physical chemist, born june, 6, 1872, Marseille; died June 21, 1940.

Biography of Victor Henri

Victor Henri was born in Marseilles to Russian parents in 1872. He went to school in St. Petersburg and studied at the Universities of paris, Göttingen and Leipzig.. He began his scientific education at the Sorbonne, where he met Theodule Ribot (1839-1916) and Alfred Binet (1857-1911) and in 1892 began experimental work in the laboratory of physiological psychology. Working with Binet at first in the field of memory and suggestibility, and as a collaborator of Binet outlining a project for the development of a series of mental tasks to measure individual differences, 1895.

Henri then sought a new subject of research : the localisation of tactual sensation. In April 1896 he joined Georg Elias Müller’s (1850-1934) laboratory in Göttingen and submitted a thesis under his direction on June 5, 1897. During his period of time in Germany, Henri kept in contact with Binet and even became associated with the program of individual psychology brought into operation by the latter.

However, in a very short time, Henri deserted psychology integrating in 1898 the psychological laboratory directed by Albert Dastre (1844-1917)  in the Sorbonne. Under his direction he submitted a thesis in physio-chemistry (February 20, 1903) before continuing an international scientific career in this field.

Henri submitted his thesis for the degree of Docteur ès sciences at Paris in 1902. The topic of his thesis was on the general theory of enzyme action, which was later published in 1903 in his book entitled Lois générales de l’action des diastases.

Victor Henri was an academic of extraordinary genius who published over 500 papers in
such diverse disciplines as psychology, physiology, biochemistry and physical chemistry. In 1894, he published his first book entitled Introduction à la psychologie expérimentale in collaboration with A. Binet, J. Courtier and J. Philippe. His last book was Chimie générale.

In 1939, he placed himself at the disposal of the French government to take up warrelated scientific research. He died of natural causes at La Rochelle in 1940 after his unit was evacuated from Paris ahead of the advancing German forces.  

Henri found that enzyme reactions were initiated by a bond between the enzyme and the substrate. About 1910 Michaelis and Menten took up Henri’s work and investigated the kinetics of the enzymes, the saccharase, which splits saccharose into glucose and fructose.

Serge Nicolaas:
Qui était Victor Henri (1872-1940) ? L'Année Psychologique, 1994, 94, 385-402.

We thank Andre Trombeta for information submitted.

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