Corneille Jean François Heymans
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1938
Born: 28 March 1892, Ghent, Belgium
Died: 18 July 1968, Knokke, Belgium
Affiliation at the time of the award: Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
Prize motivation: "for the discovery of the role played by the sinus and aortic mechanisms in the regulation of respiration."
Corneille Heymans received his Nobel Prize one year later, in 1939.
Prize share: 1/1
Without conscious thought on our part, our breathing is regulated by a respiratory center in the medulla oblongata. Corneille Heymans, his father and colleagues researched how breathing is regulated by muscular reflexes and the blood's chemical composition. Through work with dogs, they showed how impulses are conveyed via the vagus nerves between the respiratory center and respiratory muscles. In 1931 Corneille Heymans demonstrated that the glomus, a small globular body made up of small blood vessels from the carotid artery, has an important role in this context through readings of the blood's chemical composition.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.