Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ernest Starling

Ernest Henry Starling was born on April 17, 1866 in London, England. His father, M. H. Starling, was a Clerk to the Crown in Bombay, India. His five children, of which Starling was the oldest, were brought up in London by their mother. He was educated at Kings College School and entered Guy's Hospital Medical School at the age of 16. Starling was a brilliant student, winning two thirds of the awards that were availible to him, enough to earn him a free studenship at Guy's and enough in scholarships to maintain himself. He graduated M.B. in 1889 and M.D. in 1890.

While at Guy's, Starling studied physiology under Leonard Woolridge, who acted as a mentor to him. Woolridge died in 1889 leaving a young widow, whom Starling married in 1891, and who became a supporting companion in all of Starling's efforts. At the time Germany was the world leader in the study of physiology and Starling made trips there to study under Wilhelm Kuhne. In addition to his work overseas, and at Guy's limited laboratory facilities, Starling was invited to work at University College, where he met William Bayless, who became a frequent collaborator.

Starling researched many areas of physiology, but he is best known for the Franck-Starling Law of the Heart, or simply Starling's Law. The law states that the stroke volume of the heart increases in response to an increase in the volume of the blood filling the heart. When a greater volume of blood fills the heart the muscle walls of the heart are streched. In response to this stretch the muscle walls contract with a greater force, forceing more blood out of the heart. Staring is also responsible for coining the term hormone, which he based on the Greek word for impetus. Also Starling, with Bayliss, first described the peristalsis of the digestive system.

Honors won by Starling include, election to the Royal Society (1899), The Royal Medal (1913), and the Baly Medal (1907). Although he had spent much time in Germany his opinion of the German Nation changed with the outbreak of the First World War, during which he served as a director of research to study defensive measures against gas warfare. By 1920 Starling's health began to decline, suffering from malaria, aquired on a trip to India. In 1927 Starling took a warm water cruise, in an effort to improve his health. He died, probably on April 20, 1927, as his ship aproached Kingston, Jamaca.


O'Connor, W. J.; British Physiologists 1885-1914: A Biographical Dictionary; Manchester University Press ND; 1991

Fye, W. Bruce; "Erenest Henry Starling"; Clinical Cardiology (2006)29:181-182

Ernest Starling Wikipedia Entry

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