- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Samuel James Meltzer

Born  1851-03-22
Died  1920-06-27

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German-born American physiologist, born March 22, 1851, Kurland; Germany; died November 7, 1920.

Biography of Samuel James Meltzer

Samuel James Meltzer at first was attracted to study for rabbi, but then turned to the profession of merchant in Königsberg in Prussia, during which period he completed his studies for the Gymnasium. A young man of no means, it was with sacrifices he commenced the study of medicine in Berlin in 1876. He obtained his medical doctorate there in 1882. The following year he emigrated to America and commenced practice in New York. Still under sacrifices, he followed his inclination to scientific work, simultaneously working in the pathological institute of the Columbia University, with J. G. Curtis.

In 1904 Meltzer eventually was able to quit his practice in order to work in the Rockefeller Institute, where in 1907 he became chief of the department of physiology and pharmacology. With John Auer (1875-1948) he devised a method of artificial respiration, described in Journal of Experimental Medicine, New York, 1909, 11: 622.

«The fact that your patient gets well does not prove that your diagnosis was correct.»

«The constitution does not keep you down exclusively to science, but let med tell you: beware of practice. It is a bewitching graveyard in which many a brain has been buried alive with no other compensation than a gilded tombstone.»
Journal of the American Medical Association, 1909,53: 508.

«I think the Young Turks are getting rather old.»
The Association of American Physicians: Its First Seventy-Five Years.
[Meltzer made this remark in 1921 about his brainchild, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, which was founded as an outlet for young investigators in 1907-1908. Its memberss were nicknamed the «Young Turks» from the nationalisst rebellion in Turkey at that time.]


  • S. Meltzer:
    The disturbance of the law of contrary innervation as a pathogenetic factor in the disease of the bile ducts and the gall-bladder.
    American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 1917, 153: 469-477. Bronchial asthma as a phenomenon of anaphylaxis.
    Journal of the American Medical Association, Chicago, 1910, 55: 1021-1024.
    The work of John Auer and Paul Adin Lewis (1879-1929) led Meltzer to the conclusion that bronchial asthma was due to anaphylaxis, although he did not appreciate that all cases of asthma were so caused.
  • Karl Hugo Kronecker (1839-19145) and S. J. Meltzer
    Der Schluckmechanismus, seine Erregung und seine Hemmung.
    Archiv für Anatomie und Physiologie, physiologische Abteilung. Leipzig, 1883, Suppl.-Bd., 328-362.
    An experimental study, by means of a balloon, of swallowing and of oesophageal contractions.
  • S. J. Meltzer, John Auer:
    Physiological and pharmacological studies of magnesium salts.
    American Journal of Physiology, Bethesda, Maryland, 1905, 14: 366-388.
    American Journal of Physiology, Bethesda, Maryland, 1906, 15: 387-405.
    American Journal of Physiology, Bethesda, Maryland, 1906, 16: 233-251.
    A study on the anaesthetic and other effects of magnesium salts.

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