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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Werner Forßmann

29 August 1904, Berlin - 1 June 1979, Schopfheim

Werner Forssmann is known for his self-experiment on cardiac catheterization. After studying medicine and receiving his doctorate at Berliner Universität, he worked in a small hospital in Eberswalde. In 1929, after his applications to experiment on patients were rejected, the 25-year-old inserted a rubber tube into a vein in his arm up to his right ventricle, documenting it with an x-ray image. However, this spectacular experiment found little resonance in the medical world. Even Professor Sauerbruch of Charité Hospital - Forssmann's new workplace - did not think much of the experiment.

The method of diagnosing heart disease with a catheter was not taken up again until ten years later - by American scientists. As a late recognition of his work, Forssmann received the Nobel Prize for Medicine on 18 October 1956 - together with André Frédéric Cournand and Dickinson Woodruff Richards. The award honoured their discoveries on cardiac catheterization and pathological changes in the circulatory system.

In 1977 Forssmann was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Medical Faculty of Humboldt-Universität.