He studied philosophy and medicine at several universities, earning his doctorate in 1893 at the University of Berlin. In 1897 he received his habilitation under Albert Thierfelder (1842-1908) at the University of Rostock, and from 1906 until 1933 was head of pathology at the city hospitals (Altstadt and Sudenburg) in Magdeburg. Afterwards he worked as a private scholar in Berlin and Dresden.
Ricker is remembered for his concept of Stufengesetz, a law of stages in which different neural stimulations cause different changes of flow in the capillaries, and also Relationspathologie (relational pathology), in which he maintains that the root of pathological processes are a neural process and not a cellular process.
Today in Magdeburg, Gustav-Ricker-Straße and Gustav-Ricker-Krankenhaus are named in his honor.
- Entwurf einer Relationspathologie, 1905
- Grundlinien einer Logik der Physiologie als reiner Naturwissenschaft, 1912
- Pathologie als Naturwissenschaft – Relationspathologie – Für Pathologen, Physiologen, Mediziner und Biologen, 1924
- Wissenschaftstheoretische Aufsätze für Ärzte, 1936
- Parts of this article are based on a translation of the equivalent article from the German Wikipedia.
- Uni-Magdeburg by Horst Peter Wolff, translated biography
-  Integrative biophysics by Fritz Albert Popp, L. V. Belousov
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