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01.11.2016 | main topic | Ausgabe 15-16/2016

Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift 15-16/2016

Daniel Bovet, Nobelist: muscle relaxants in anaesthesia

The role played by two neglected protagonists

Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift > Ausgabe 15-16/2016
Dimitri A Cozanitis


In 1957, Professor Daniel Bovet received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his studies on various compounds including the muscle relaxants gallamine and succinylcholine that became very useful in anaesthesia. Textbooks credit Professor Bovet for the discovery of these drugs. However, although he indeed did discover their pharmacological character, the actual syntheses were made by Ernest Fourneau and Reid Hunt, respectively; sadly, these two scientists have largely been ignored. In this paper, a brief biography of Bovet is presented along with some of his more notable accomplishments. Particular emphasis has been placed on gallamine and succinylcholine along with their history. In an attempt to undo the “injustice” dealt to both Fourneau and Hunt, brief accounts of their history, story and character are provided.

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