Stannius, Hermann Friedrich

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(b. Hamburg, Germany, 15 March 1808; d. Saehsenburg, Germany, 15 January 1883)

comparative anatomy, physiology.

Stannius was the son of a merchant, Johann Wilhelm Julius Stannius, and the former Johanna Flügge. After attending the Johanneum in Hamburg, he began his medical studies at the Akademisches Gymnasium there (1825). To complete his studies, Stannius went to Berlin in 1828 and then to Breslau. where he finished a doctoral dissertation in comparative anatomy on 26 November 1831. He returned to Berlin, where he became an assistant at the Friedriehshtädter-Krankenhaus (1831–1837) while working as a general practitioner. Simultaneously he investigated a great number of questions in entomology and pathological anatomy.

On 3 October 1837, Stannius, then aged twentynine, was offered an appointment as full professor of comparative anatomy, physiology, and general pathology at Rostock University and as director of the institute for the same fields. He lectured on these subjects and also taught histology from 1840 to 1862. Although Stannius had been in poor health since 1843, he succeeded to the rectorship of the university in 1850 and carried out much fruitful scientific research until 1854. Beginning in 1855 his illness, a serious nervous disease connected with mental disturbances, grew worse, and in 1862 it obliged him to abandon his work. The last twenty years of his life were spent in a mental hospital at Sachsenburg.

Although his health and his position at the university allowed Stannius to undertake scientific work for only seventeen years, he nevertheless gained a reputation in various fields of research. He first worked in entomology, dealing with the structure of the diptera and with deformities of insects (1835).

In Berlin he dealt with general pathology (1837). His outstanding monograph was the second volume of Lehrbuch dier vergteichenden Anatomie der Wirbeltiere (1846). He also investigated the nervous systems and the brains of sturgeons and dolphins (1846, 1849), and he conducted pharmacological studies on the effects of strychnine and digitalis (1837, 1851). In a noted work (1852), he ligatured a frog heart and established the location of the stimulus-building center within the sinus venosus. This experiment has since been known as “Stannius’experiment.” He was a long-time friend of Rudolph Wagner, a physiologist at Göttingen University. Of the contributions he undertook to write for Wagner’s Dictionary of Physiology, he was able to finish only the article on fever (1842), which he said resulted from a “changed mood” of the nervous system.


I Original Works. A bibliography of forty of Stannius’ papers is in Royal Societ, Catalogue of Scientific Papers, V . 797–798, His works include De speciebus nonnullis Mycethophila vel novis vel minus cognitis (Bratislava, 1831), his inaugural dissertation; Beiträge zur Entomologie, besondere in Bezug auf Schlesien, gemeinschaftlich mi Schummel (Breslau. 1832); “über den Einfluss der Nerven auf den Blutumlauf.” in Notizen aus dem Gibiet der Nature- und Heilkunde, 36 (1833), 246–248; “Ueber einige Missblidungen an In-sekten,” in Archiv für Anatomie. Physiologie und wissenschafttliche Medizin(1835), 295–310; Allgemeine Pathologie, I (Berlin, 1837); “Ueber die Einwirkung des Strychnins auf das Nervensystem,” in Archiv für Anatomie. . . (1837), 223–236: “Ueber Nebennieren bei Knorelfischen,” ibid. (1839). 97– 101; “Ueber den Bau Vögel” ibid (1843). 449–452; “Ueber den Bau des Delplingehirns,” in Abhandlungen aus dem Gebiet der Naturwissenschaften (Hamburg). I (1846) 1–16; Lehrbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie der Wirbelthiere, 2 vols. (Berlin. 1846: 2nd ed., 1852). of which Carl von Sieboid wrote the first, and Stannius the seccond volmne; “’Untersuchungen ueber Muskelreiz barkeit.” in Archivfür Anatomie. . . (1847). 443–462, and (1849), 588–592; Das peripherische Nervensystem der Fische, anatomisch and physiologisch untersucht (Rostock, 1849): “Ueber die Wirkung der Digitalis und des Digitalin,” in Archiv für physiologische Heilkunde. 10 (1851), 177–209: and “Zwei Reihen physiologischer Versuche,” in Archiv für Anatomie. . . (1852), 85–100.

II. Secondary Literature. See J. Pagel, Biographisches Lexicon der hervorragenden Aerzte, 2nd ed., V (Berlin-Vienna. 1934), 390; Wilhelm Stieda, “Hermann Stannius und die Universität Rostock 1837–1854 in Jahrbuch des Vereins für mecklenburgische Geschite. 93 (1929), 1–39;Richard N. Wegner, Zur Geschichte der anatomischen Forschung an der Universität Rostock(Wiesbaden, 1917), 2. 127–128; and Axel Wilhelim. Die mecklenburgischen Ärzte von den ältesten zeiten bis zur Gegenwart (Schwerin, 1901), 107–108, with bibliography.

K. E. Rothschuh

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