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Henry Newell Martin (1848-1893). A pioneer physiologist.

Medical History
Cambridge University Press
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  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine


HENRY NEWELL MARTIN (1848-1893). A PIONEER PHYSIOLOGIST by C. S. BREATHNACH STARLING'S very first paper in the series which culminated in the enunciation of the Law of the Heart begins (Knowlton and Starling, 1912): 'The isolation of the heart after the method of Newell Martin possessed certain advantages over other methods. The heart is supplied with blood properly oxygenated by the lungs and it pumps the blood against a measured resistance, and thus can be made to work under conditions closely approximating to normal . . .' Henry Newell Martin was born in Newry, Co. Down, on 1 July 1848, both his parents being Irish, his father coming from the South and his mother from the North of Ireland. His father was a schoolmaster who had forsaken the Congregational ministry, and Henry, the eldest of twelve children, was educated chiefly at home. When not yet sixteen years he matriculated at the University of London and began his studies at the medical school of University College, at the same time, under financial dictate, becoming apprentice to Dr. McDonagh in the nearby Hampstead Road, London (Foster, 1896). Here he had the good fortune to meet, and have his talent recognized by, Michael Foster, then Sharpey's assistant: These lectures [by M. Foster] on [experimentall physiology were absolutely voluntary, and only the better students were wiiling to give up the time needed to get a more thorough grasp of physiology. Well, I appointed a time to see the few who wished to spend some time in this new study, this study of luxury, and there came to me a boy, nothing more than a boy, who said: 'I am very sorry, sir, I would like to take your course if I could, but you see my parents are not very well off, and I get my board and lodging by living with a doctor close by ... I have, in return for my board, to dispense all the doctor's medicines, and that dispensing takes me from two to five; now your lectures begin at four. I cannot come for the first hour; I will work hard and will try to make up the lost

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