Marthe Louise Vogt and the Role of Neurotransmitters in the Human Brain

Marthe Louise Vogt

Marthe Louise Vogt (1903-2003)

On September 8, 1903, German neuroscientist Marthe Louise Vogt was born. She is considered one of the important neuroscientists of the 20th century and is mainly remembered for her important contributions to the understanding of the role of neurotransmitters in the brain, especially epinephrine.

Marthe Louise Vogt – Early Years

Marthe Vogt was the older of two daughters of Oskar Vogt and Cécile Vogt, both doctors and brain researchers. In 1903, her parents worked in the Neurobiology Laboratory at Berlin’s Friedrich Wilhelm University, later Humboldt University, which was headed by Oskar Vogt and which was merged in 1914 with the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research in Berlin-Buch, later to become the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt am Main, again headed by Oskar Vogt. Marthe Vogt began studying medicine and chemistry at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in 1922 after her Abitur.[2] Among her teachers who influenced her to work on medical questions with the help of chemistry were Wilhelm Schlenk and Friedrich Adolf Paneth. After completing her medical studies in 1927 and a practical year, which she spent in equal parts in her father’s hospital and laboratory, she received her doctorate in medicine on 9 May 1928 with her research on the microscopical 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.

Research on the Central Nervous System

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.

Emigration to the UK

Times changed when the Nazi Party in Germany increased its influence. Oskar Vogt’s anti-national-socialist stance led to his dismissal by the Reich Minister of Science, Art and National Education Bernhard Rust. 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. During her time in Hampstead, she proved, together with Dale and Feldberg, that acetylcholine is not only, as has been known since Otto Loewi, a neurotransmitter in the autonomic nervous system, but also the neurotransmitter from the motor neurons to the skeletal muscle. In 1936, while Marthe Vogt was working with him, Dale was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine together with Otto Loewi; both were awarded for their discoveries of neurotransmitters.

A Category A Enemy Alien

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.

Further Reseach

In 1946 John Henry Gaddum at the Department of Pharmacology in Edinburgh gave Marthe Vogt the opportunity to set up her own research group.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. In 1954, Marthe Vogt now in Edinburgh proved that the catecholamines noradrenaline and adrenaline in the brain are not only neurotransmitters in the wall of the brain blood vessels, but neurotransmitters in neurons of the brain itself. With acetylcholine, noradrenaline and adrenaline were the first transmitter substances of the brain ever identified. Without Marthe Vogt’s discoveries, for example, the effects of muscle relaxants and psychotropic drugs could not be explained. Studies on neurotransmitter disorders in schizophrenia or severe depression are also based on this discovery.

Later Life

Marthe Vogt was elected a member of the British Royal Society in 1952 and received the the Queen’s Medal in 1981. In 1974 she received the Schmiedeberg Plaque of the German Pharmacological Society. Edinburgh and Cambridge awarded her honorary doctorates. She was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (since 1977) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. From 1960 to 1966 she headed the Pharmacology Department of the Agricultural Research Council Institute of Animal Physiology in Babraham near Cambridge. There she remained in retirement until 1990, when her vision deteriorated and she moved to La Jolla, California, to live with her sister Marguerite, ten years younger than her. Marte Vogt died on September 9, 2003, at age 100.

Dave Farina, Neurotransmitters: Type, Structure, and Function [8]

References and Further Reading:


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    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- 9 September : Death Anniversary of Marthe L. Vogt —————————————————————————————————-


    Marthe Louise Vogt
    (Birth: 8 September, 1903) (Death: 9 September, 2003)
    German-British pharmacologist who left Nazi Germany for Britain and became a leading authority on neurotransmitters in the brain. In 1936 she co-authored a classic paper proving that acetylcholine from nerves originating in the spinal cord triggers movement in muscles. She later showed that the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine help brain cells communicate. Her classic paper on sympathin, published in 1954, helped to pave the way to transforming the lives of the mentally ill. Modern anti-depressant drug therapy is grounded in increasing the availability of amines, predicated on the idea that amines are present and active in the brain in the first place, something which Vogt did much to establish. (The Information is copied From: ) ———————————————————————————————————————
    Marthe Louise Vogt (September 8, 1903 – September 9, 2003)[1][2] was a German scientist who was referred to as one of the leading neuroscientists of the twentieth century. She is mainly remembered for her important contributions to the understanding of the role of neurotransmitters in the brain,[3][4] especially epinephrine.[5]
    Vogt was born in Berlin, the daughter of two of Germany’s leading anatomists, Cécile and Oskar Vogt (French and Danish-German respectively.) Her father during his career also carried out a post-mortem examination on Lenin’s brain. Marthe studied at the University of Berlin and in the 1920s earned a doctorate in Chemistry from the institution. She subsequently worked in the Institute of Pharmacology in Berlin under Paul Trendelenburg where she met Edith Bülbring and Wilhelm Feldberg and where Paul Trendelenburg’s son Ullrich became her friend for life. By the early 1930s, she had established a reputation as one of Germany’s leading pharmacologists, and in 1931, aged just 28, was appointed head of the chemical division at the Kaiser Wilhelm InstitutfürHirnforschung (“Brain Science”).
    From Germany to Britain:
    With Nazism on the rise throughout Germany, Vogt and others decide that a move to Britain would be greatly beneficial, and in 1935 she arrived on a Rockefeller Travelling Fellowship in England. Over the next thirty years, Vogt would divide her time between Cambridge, London and Edinburgh and in 1960 she moved back to Cambridge once more to head the Pharmacology Unit at the Babraham Institute, retiring in 1968. She continued research there until 1990.
    Throughout her life Marthe Vogt received numerous accolades from many scientific institutions. In the early 1950s she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society and in 1981 she was awarded the Royal Medal of the Society. She also held honorary doctorates from Edinburgh and Cambridge. Perhaps her most intriguing accolade is her election in 1977 as a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
    Later life:
    Marthe Vogt later relocated to La Jolla, California in 1988 to reside with her sister, noted cancer biologist Marguerite Vogt (1913-2007). Marthe Vogt died the day after her 100th birthday in 2003.
    1. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56125. edit
    2. Cuthbert, A. W. (2005). “Marthe Louise Vogt. 8 September 1903 — 9 September 2003: Elected FRS 1952”. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society51: 409–423. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2005.0027. edit
    3. “Marthe Vogt – Telegraph”. The Daily Telegraph (London). October 3, 2003. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
    4. “VOLUME 2 – ISSUE 1 – MARTHE LOUISE VOGT (1903-2003) pA2 Online – Volume 2 – Issue 1 – Marthe Louise Vogt (1903-2003)”. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
    5. I. Klatzo (10 September 2002). Cecile and Oskar Vogt: The Visionaries of Modern Neuroscience. Springer. p. 41. ISBN 978-3-211-83798-6. Retrieved 23 December 2012.

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    Acknowledgement: Girija Girish Tambe of Vaishnavi Xerox helped for Collection of images in the Science Spectrum of 9 September, 2015. All the mistakes in the collection of information from website, it’s compilation and communication belongs exclusively to :
    Vitthalrao B. Khyade (And not to his pace making Shardanagar). Please do excuse for the mistakes. —————————————————– Dr.APIS@World.of.Science ————————————————————————

    File:Dr.APIS.9.September@Marthe.Vogt Compiled for: Science Association, Shardabai Pawar Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Shardanagar (Baramati) – 413115 India.

    With the Best Compliments From:
    Shardanagar (The Agro – academic Heritage of
    Grandsire Padmashri Dr. D. G. Alias Appasaheb Pawar).

    All the mistakes in the collection of information from website, it’s compilation and communication
    ( through email ) belongs exclusively to : Vitthalrao B. Khyade (And not to his pace making Shardanagar).

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