On September 8, 1903, German neuroscientist Marthe Louise Vogt was born. Vogt is mainly remembered for her important contributions to the understanding of the role of neurotransmitters in the brain, especially epinephrine.
Marthe Louise Vogt was born in Berlin as the daughter of the famous anatomists Cécile and Oskar Vogt. Marthe Vogt studied medicint as well as chemistry at the University of Berlin and earned her doctorate degree with her research on the microscopial anatomy of the human brain. Under Carl Neuberg, Marthe Vogt earned a D.Phil in chemistry for her research in biochemistry on carbohydrate metabolism at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Biochemie.
Marthe Vogt started working at the Institute of Pharmacology in Berlin under Paul Trendelenburg. There, she also met Edith Bülbring and Wilhelm Feldberg and learned about endocrinology and used experimental techniques in pharmacological analysis. Vogt managed to establish a reputation as one of Germany’s leading pharmacologists by the early 1930s, also, Marthe Vogt was appointed head of the chemical division at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Hirnforschung (“Brain Science”) when she was only 28 years old. In general, Vogt’s research work focused on the central nervous system and the effects of various drugs on the brain at the time.
Times changed when the Nazi Party in Germany increased its influence. Marthe Vogt along with further German scientists including Edith Bulbring decided to move to Britain and arrived on a Rockefeller Travelling Fellowship in England in 1935. She joined the British Pharmacological Society and began work with Sir Henry Dale at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. One of Vogt’s most important contributions was a coauthored paper with Sir Henry Dale and Wilhelm Feldberg entitled ‘Release of Acetylcholine at Voluntary Motor Nerve Endings’ which was published in 1936. As Dale was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the work described in this paper, Feldberg and Vogt were credited in his lecture. Even though she successfully continued her research during the war, its politics started to threaten her career. After an investigation by British intelligence services in 1940, she was categorized as a category A enemy alien. It is believed that Nazi officials would not accept her resignation from a permanent appointment when she left Germany. Vogt was brought before a tribunal which ruled for her immediate internment, but fortunately, her colleagues and friends rallied to her aid and an appeal was granted, freeing her to continue her work at Cambridge, where she remained for five years.
In the later 1940s, Marthe Vogt became reader in Pharmacology at Edinburgh University and continued her research there. In 1948, she published an influential paper with William Feldberg which provided the first known evidence for the role of acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter and demonstrated the regional distribution of cholinergic systems in the brain.
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