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Marthe Vogt

Published: 29 Sep 2014 in Pharmacology Hall of Fame

Elected in 2014

Born on 8 September 1903 in Berlin, Germany.
Died on 9 September 2003 in La Jolla, California, USA.

Achievements

  • In her classic paper on sympathin (adrenaline and noradrenaline), published in 1954 during her 17 years at the University of Edinburgh, Vogt proposed the chemical transmission of impulses between brain cells. Modern treatment of mental illness, including depression, is based on the presence and activity of these transmitters, which Vogt’s work did much to establish
  • She was a pioneer throughout her career: from graduating from Berlin University with both a medical degree and a doctorate in Chemistry (a rarity for a woman at that time), to becoming the third ever woman to join the British Pharmacological Society in 1937
  • She supported Sir Henry Dale at the National Institute for Medical Research in London on research that led to Dale’s 1936 Nobel Prize 
  • Her animal research made her among the first to demonstrate the actual release of diverse transmitters from the brain in living animals, and their sensitivity to electrical stimulation and changes in anaesthesia

 Personal life

  • Although not Jewish, Vogt decided to leave Germany, with no intention of returning, after the Nazi Party’s rise to power. A Rockefeller travelling fellowship enabled her to come to London in 1935
  • She helped refugees from Franco’s oppression in Spain, as well as German Jews, to become established in Britain. She was also a member of anti-nuclear organizations and campaigned for prisoners of conscience
  • At the outbreak of WWII, she was classified Enemy Alien Category A - destined for immediate internment. Colleagues, including Sir Henry Dale, appealed to the Home Secretary on her behalf, and she subsequently avoided internment. She has reportedly reprimanded those involved for bothering the British government at such a difficult time