August Krogh

August Krogh

August Krogh
Born (1874-11-15)November 15, 1874
Died September 13, 1949(1949-09-13) (aged 74)
Nationality Danish
Fields Zoophysiology
Institutions University of Copenhagen
Known for Krogh's principle[1]
Influences Christian Bohr, A. Bornstein
Influenced Joseph Barcroft, Torkel Weis-Fogh
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Schack August Steenberg Krogh ForMemRS[2] (November 15, 1874 – September 13, 1949) was a Danish professor at the department of zoophysiology at the University of Copenhagen from 1916 to 1945.[3][4][5] He contributed a number of fundamental discoveries within several fields of physiology, and is famous for developing the Krogh Principle.[6][7][8]

In 1920 August Krogh was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the mechanism of regulation of the capillaries in skeletal muscle.[9][10] Krogh was first to describe the adaptation of blood perfusion in muscle and other organs according to demands through opening and closing the arterioles and capillaries.[11]

Besides his contributions to medicine, Krogh was also one of the founders of what is today Novo Nordisk.[12]


Krogh was a pioneer in comparative physiology. He wrote his thesis on the respiration through the skin and lungs in frogs: Respiratory Exchange of Animals, 1915. Later Krogh took on studies of water and electrolyte homeostasis of aquatic animals and he published the books: Osmotic Regulation (1939) and Comparative Physiology of Respiratory Mechanisms (1941). He contributed more than 200 research articles in international journals. He was a constructor of scientific instruments of which several had considerable practical importance, e.g. the spirometer and the apparatus for measuring basal metabolic rate.

Krogh was the head of the first laboratory for animal physiology (zoophysiology) at the University of Copenhagen.[13]

Krogh and his wife Marie brought insulin to Denmark shortly after its discovery in 1922 by Nicolae Paulescu. Marie, a doctor who had patients with type 1 diabetes, was herself suffering from type 2 diabetes and was naturally very interested in the disease.[14] Together with a doctor, Hagedorn, August and Marie Krogh founded Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium, where Krogh made decisive contributions to establishing a Danish production of insulin by ethanol extraction of the hormone from the pancreatic glands of pigs.[14]

In the 1930s, Krogh worked with two other Nobel prizewinners, the radiochemist George de Hevesy and the physicist Niels Bohr on the permeability of membranes to heavy water and radioactive isotopes, and together they managed to obtain Denmark's first cyclotron for experiments on animal and plant physiology, as well as in dental and medical work.[13]


Much of Krogh's work was carried out in collaboration with his wife, Marie Krogh (1874–1943), a renowned scientist in her own right.[11]

August and Marie had four children, the youngest of whom, Bodil, was born in 1918. She too was a physiologist, and became the first woman president of the American Physiological Society in 1975. [15] Bodil married another eminent physiologist, Knut Schmidt-Nielsen.[16][17]


Torkel Weis-Fogh, an eminent pioneer on the study of insect flight, was a student of August Krogh's. Together they wrote a classic paper on that subject in 1951.[18]

Krogh's name is preserved in two items now named for him:

Further reading


  1. Krebs, H. A. (1975). "The August Krogh Principle: "For many problems there is an animal on which it can be most conveniently studied"". Journal of Experimental Zoology. 194 (1): 221–6. doi:10.1002/jez.1401940115. PMID 811756.
  2. Hill, A. V. (1950). "August Schack Steenberg Krogh. 1874-1949". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 7 (19): 220. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1950.0014.
  3. Drinker, C. K. (1950). "August Krogh: 1874-1949". Science. 112 (2900): 105–107. doi:10.1126/science.112.2900.105. PMID 15442251.
  4. Liljestrand, G. (1950). "August Krogh". Acta Physiologica Scandinavica. 20 (2–3): 109–116. doi:10.1111/j.1748-1716.1950.tb00688.x. PMID 15413515.
  5. "Deaths of C. M. Wenyon, Clifford Dobell and A. Krogh". Comptes rendus des seances de la Societe de biologie et de ses filiales. 144 (3–4): 160–1. 1950. PMID 15420871.
  6. "August Krogh (1874-1949) the physiologist's physiologist". JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association. 199 (7): 496–497. 1967. doi:10.1001/jama.199.7.496. PMID 5335475.
  7. Hurst, J. W.; Fye, W. B.; Zimmer, H. G. (2006). "August Krogh". Clinical Cardiology. 29 (5): 231–233. doi:10.1002/clc.4960290514. PMID 16739398.
  8. Rehberg, P. B. (1951). "August Krogh, November 15, 1874-September 13, 1949". The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 24 (2): 83–102. PMC 2599127Freely accessible. PMID 14901880.
  9. Larsen, E. H. (2007). "August Krogh (1874-1949): 1920 Nobel Prize". Ugeskrift for laeger. 169 (35): 2878. PMID 17877986.
  10. Sulek, K. (1967). "Nobel prize for August Krogh in 1920 for his discovery of regulative mechanism in the capillaries". Wiadomosci lekarskie (Warsaw, Poland : 1960). 20 (19): 1829. PMID 4870667.
  11. 1 2 "August Krogh - Facts". Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  12. "The Founders". Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  13. 1 2 "George de Hevesy: Explosion of new knowledge". Niels Bohr Institute. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  14. 1 2 "The Founders". Novo Nordisk. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  15. Dantzler, William H. (July 2015). "Obituary Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen (1918-2015) 48th APS President". Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  16. Living history of physiology: Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen (Prof. William Dantzler. University of Arizona)
  17. 48th APS President (1975-1976)Bodil M. Schmidt-Nielsen (American Physiological Society) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-21. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
  18. Krogh, August; Weis-Fogh, Torkel (1951). "The Respiratory Exchange of the Desert Locust (Schistocerca Gregaria) before, During and After Flight". Journal of Experimental Biology. The Company of Biologists. 28 (3): 344–357.
  19. Fournier, R. L. Basic Transport Phenomena in Biomedical Engineering. Taylor & Francis, London, 1999.
  20. Choi et al. Microfluidic scaffolds for tissue engineering. Nature Materials (2007) vol. 6 pp. 908-915
  21. Bernard, Claude. Introduction à l'étude de la médecine expérimentale, J.B. Baillière et Fils, Libraires de L'Académie Impériale de Médecine, 1865. pp. 400

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