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Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer

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Title: Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer  
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Subject: North Berwick, Copley Medal, List of people associated with University College London, People by year/Reports/No other categories/2, Edward Schafer
Collection: 1850 Births, 1935 Deaths, Academics of the University of Edinburgh, Academics of University College London, Alumni of University College London, English People of German Descent, English Physiologists, Fellows of the Royal Society, Fullerian Professors of Physiology, People Associated with East Lothian, People from Hornsey, Presidents of the British Medical Association, Presidents of the British Science Association, Presidents of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Recipients of the Copley Medal, Royal Medal Winners
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Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer

Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer
Born (1850-06-02)2 June 1850
Hornsey, Middlesex
Died 29 March 1935(1935-03-29) (aged 84)
North Berwick, East Lothian
Nationality English
Fields Physiology
Alma mater University College London
Doctoral advisor William Sharpey
Known for Insulin, endocrine
Notable awards Royal Medal (1902)
Copley Medal (1924)

Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer FRS[1] FRSE (2 June 1850 – 29 March 1935) was an English physiologist.

He is regarded as a founder of endocrine" for the secretions of the ductless glands. Schafer's method of artificial respiration is named after him.[3]

Schafer coined the word "insulin" after theorising that a single substance from the pancreas was responsible for diabetes mellitus.

He was knighted in 1913.


  • Biography 1
  • Works 2
  • Terms 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer

Born Schäfer, Edward was the third son of city merchant James William Henry Schäfer who had been born in Hamburg but came to Britain as a young man, became a naturalised citizen and settled in Highgate, North London.

Edward attended Clewer House School and then University College London in 1868 where he was taught by the physiologist William Sharpey and became the first Sharpey Scholar in 1873.[4] He was appointed Assistant Professor of Practical Physiology in 1874 and was elected to the Royal Society in 1878 when he was only 28 years old. He was Fullerian Professor at the Royal Institution and became Jodrell Professor at UCL in 1883, a position he held until 1899 when he was appointed to the chair of physiology at the University of Edinburgh where he remained until his retirement in 1933 and becoming Emeritus Professor thereafter. Following the move to Edinburgh, he commissioned the Scottish architect Robert Lorimer to design a substantial family house at the coastal town of North Berwick.

Schafer was a founding member of the Physiological Society and from 1908 until 1933 edited the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology.[5] He was the recipient of many honorary degrees and prestigious medals both at home and abroad and his book on the Essentials of Histology ran to sixteen editions between 1885 and 1954.[2] He introduced suprarenal extract (containing adrenaline as well as other active substances) into medicine.[6] Schafer became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1878, was president of the British Science Association in 1911–1912,[7] was president of the British Medical Association in 1912 and was knighted in 1913.

He was married twice, firstly to Maud Dixey and after her death in 1896, to Ethel Maud Roberts. There were four children by his first marriage, however, he outlived three of them: his eldest daughter died in 1905 and both his sons died in action in World War I. Following the death of his eldest son, John Sharpey Schafer, the name of ‘Sharpey', which had been given as a middle name, was prefixed by Schafer to his own surname in 1918, both in memory of his son and to perpetuate the name of his teacher, William Sharpey.[8] His grandson, Edward Peter Sharpey-Schafer, was Professor of Medicine at St Thomas' Hospital, London from 1948 until his death in 1963.

His students included James Davidson Stuart Cameron.[9]


Besides valuable papers on muscular structure, on the chemistry of blood proteids, on absorption, and on the rhythm of voluntary contraction, he wrote:

  • A Course of Practical Histology (1877)
  • Essentials of Histology (1885; sixth edition, 1902)
  • Advanced Text-Book of Physiology by British Physiologists (1898)
  • Experimental Physiology (1910)

He edited Quain's Elements of Anatomy (with G. D. Thane, 8th, 9th, and 10th editions).


  • Schaefer's method — (artificial respiration) – Patient prone with forehead on one of his arms: straddle across patient with knees on either side of his hips, and press with both hands firmly upon the back over the lower ribs; then raise your body slowly, at the same time relaxing the pressure with your hands. Repeat this forward and backward movement about every five seconds.
Dorland's Medical Dictionary (1938)


  1. ^ Hill, L. (1935). "Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer. 1850-1935".  
  2. ^ a b Sykes, A. H. (2006). "Edward Schafer (1850-1935) and artificial respiration". Journal of medical biography 14 (3): 155–62.  
  3. ^ "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2004.  
  4. ^ "SIR EDWARD SHARPEY-SCHAFER, F.R.S. LL.D., M.D., D.Sc., F.R.C.P.Ed". British Medical Journal 1 (3874): 741–742. 1935.  
  5. ^ Hill, Leonard (1935). "Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society: 404.  
  6. ^ New International Encyclopedia
  7. ^ Presidential Address to the British Association Meeting, held at Dundee in 1912
  8. ^ Schafer, G. M. S. (1935). "Sir Edward Sharpey-Schafer". BMJ 1 (3875): 801.  
  9. ^

Further reading

  • Sykes, Alan H.: "Sharpey's Men" in Sharpey's fibres : the life of William Sharpey, the father of modern physiology in England, page 132-135. York : William Sessions, 2001.
  • Krediet, C. T. P.; Wieling, W. (2008). "Edward P. Sharpey-Schafer was right: Evidence for systemic vasodilatation as a mechanism of hypotension in cough syncope". Europace 10 (4): 486–488.  
  • Writer, D. (2004). "Sir Edward Sharpey-Schafer and his simple and efficient method of performing artificial respiration". Resuscitation 61 (2): 113–116.  
  • Sparrow, E. P.; Finger, S. (2001). "Edward Albert Schäfer (Sharpey-Schafer) and his Contributions to Neuroscience: Commemorating of the 150th Anniversary of his Birth". Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 10 (1): 41–57.  
  • Hill, A. V. (1976). "E Sharpey-Schafer and the jubilee of the Physiological Society proceedings". The Journal of physiology 263 (1): 54P–56P.  
  • McMichael, J. (1964). "Edward Peter Sharpey-Schafer". British heart journal 26: 430–432.  
  • "E.p. Sharpey-Schafer". British Medical Journal 2 (5365): 1135–1136. 1963.  
  • "Edward Peter Sharpey-Schafer". Lancet 2 (7314): 951–953. 1963.  
  • "Sir Edward Sharpey Schafer, F.r.s". British Medical Journal 2 (3234): 1237. 1922.  

External links

  • Encyclopædia Britannica"Sharpey-Schafer, Sir Edward Albert" from
  • Fullerian Professorships
Academic offices
Preceded by
Alfred Henry Garrod
Fullerian Professor of Physiology
Succeeded by
John Gray McKendrick
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