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August Krogh

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August Krogh
Born(1874-11-15)15 November 1874
Died13 September 1949(1949-09-13) (aged 74)
Alma materUniversity of Copenhagen
Known forDiffusing capacity for carbon monoxide
Krogh model
Krogh length
Krogh's principle
SpouseMarie Krogh
ChildrenErik Viggo Krogh

Ellen Rigmor Krogh
Agnes Helga Krogh

Bodil Schmidt Nielsen
AwardsBaly Medal (1945)
Croonian Medal (1940)
ForMemRS (1937)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1920)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Copenhagen
Thesis Frøernes Hud- og Lungerespiration  (1903)
Doctoral advisorChristian Bohr
Notable studentsTorkel Weis-Fogh

Schack August Steenberg Krogh ForMemRS[1] (15 November 1874 – 13 September 1949) was a Danish professor at the department of zoophysiology at the University of Copenhagen from 1916 to 1945.[2][3][4] He contributed a number of fundamental discoveries within several fields of physiology, and is famous for developing the Krogh Principle.[5][6][7]

In 1920 August Krogh was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the mechanism of regulation of the capillaries in skeletal muscle.[8][9] Krogh was first to describe the adaptation of blood perfusion in muscle and other organs according to demands through opening and closing the arterioles and capillaries.[10]

Besides his contributions to medicine, Krogh was also one of the founders of what is today the Novo Nordisk company.[11]


He was born in Grenaa on the peninsula of Djursland in Denmark, the son of Viggo Krogh, a shipbuilder. His mother (born Drechmann) was the daughter of a customs officer in Holstein. Through his mother’s family he was roma.[2] He was educated at the Aarhus Katedralskole in Aarhus. He attended the University of Copenhagen graduating MSc in 1899 and gaining a doctorate PhD in 1903.[12]

Krogh was a pioneer in comparative physiology. He wrote his thesis on the respiration through the skin and lungs in frogs: Respiratory Exchange of Animals, 1915. Later Krogh took on studies of water and electrolyte homeostasis of aquatic animals and he published the books: Osmotic Regulation (1939) and Comparative Physiology of Respiratory Mechanisms (1941). He contributed more than 200 research articles in international journals. He was a constructor of scientific instruments of which several had considerable practical importance, such as the spirometer and the apparatus for measuring basal metabolic rate.

Krogh began lecturing in the University of Copenhagen in 1908 and in 1916 was promoted to full professor, becoming the head of the first laboratory for animal physiology (zoophysiology) at the university.[13]

Krogh was elected an International Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1931,[14] an International Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1937,[15] and an International Member of the American Philosophical Society in 1941.[16]

Krogh and his wife Marie, scientist in her own right, brought insulin to Denmark shortly after its discovery in 1922 by Frederick Banting and Charles Best.[17] Marie, a doctor who had patients with type 1 diabetes, was herself suffering from type 2 diabetes and was naturally very interested in the disease.[11] Together with doctor Hans Christian Hagedorn, August and Marie Krogh founded Nordisk Insulinlaboratorium, where Krogh made decisive contributions to establishing a Danish production of insulin by ethanol extraction of the hormone from the pancreatic glands of pigs.[11]

In the 1930s, Krogh worked with two other Nobel prizewinners, the radiochemist George de Hevesy and the physicist Niels Bohr on the permeability of membranes to heavy water and radioactive isotopes, and together, they managed to obtain Denmark's first cyclotron for experiments on animal and plant physiology as well as in dental and medical work.[13]


  • The Respiratory Exchange of Animals and Man (1916)
  • Osmotic Regulation in Aquatic Animals (1939)
  • The Comparative Physiology of Respiratory Mechanisms (1941)


He married Marie Krogh (née Jørgensen, 1874–1943) in 1905. She was a renowned scientist in her own right and much of August Krogh's work was carried out in close collaboration with her.[10]

August and Marie had four children, the youngest of whom, Bodil, was born in 1918. She too was a physiologist, and became the first woman president of the American Physiological Society in 1975.[18] Bodil married another eminent physiologist, Knut Schmidt-Nielsen.[19][20]


Torkel Weis-Fogh, an eminent pioneer on the study of insect flight, was a student of August Krogh's. Together they wrote a classic paper on that subject in 1951.[21]

Krogh's name is preserved in two items now named for him:

  • Krogh length, the distance between capillaries which nutrients diffuse to, based on cellular consumption of the nutrients.[22][23]
  • Krogh's principle, that "for... a large number of problems there will be some animal of choice, or a few such animals, on which it can be most conveniently studied."[24]

Further reading[edit]

  • Larsen, E. H. (2001). "August Krogh and the laboratory of animal physiology situated at Ny Vestergade 11". Ugeskrift for Laeger. 163 (51): 7240–7248. PMID 11797555.
  • Kardel, T. (1999). "About the seven little devils who changed physiology. August and Marie Krogh on pulmonary gas exchange". Ugeskrift for Laeger. 161 (51): 7112–7116. PMID 10647306.
  • Schmidt-Nielsen, B. (1984). "August and Marie Krogh and respiratory physiology". Journal of Applied Physiology: Respiratory, Environmental and Exercise Physiology. 57 (2): 293–303. doi:10.1152/jappl.1984.57.2.293. PMID 6381437.
  • Poulsen, J. E. (1975). "The impact of August Krogh on the insulin treatment of diabetes and our present status". Acta Medica Scandinavica. Supplementum. 578: 7–14. doi:10.1111/j.0954-6820.1975.tb06497.x. PMID 1098401.
  • Dejours, P. (1975). "August Krogh and the physiology of respiration". Scandinavian Journal of Respiratory Diseases. 56 (6): 337–346. PMID 769148.
  • Kenez, J. (1965). "The Capillaries and Krogh". Orvosi Hetilap. 106: 177–178. PMID 14275297.


  1. ^ Hill, A. V. (1950). "August Schack Steenberg Krogh. 1874-1949". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 7 (19): 220–237. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1950.0014. S2CID 161131285.
  2. ^ Drinker, C. K. (1950). "August Krogh: 1874-1949". Science. 112 (2900): 105–107. Bibcode:1950Sci...112..105D. doi:10.1126/science.112.2900.105. PMID 15442251.
  3. ^ Liljestrand, G. (1950). "August Krogh". Acta Physiologica Scandinavica. 20 (2–3): 109–116. doi:10.1111/j.1748-1716.1950.tb00688.x. PMID 15413515.
  4. ^ "Deaths of C. M. Wenyon, Clifford Dobell and A. Krogh". Comptes rendus des séances de la Société de biologie et de ses filiales. 144 (3–4): 160–1. 1950. PMID 15420871.
  5. ^ "August Krogh (1874-1949) the physiologist's physiologist". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 199 (7): 496–497. 1967. doi:10.1001/jama.199.7.496. PMID 5335475.
  6. ^ Hurst, J. W.; Fye, W. B.; Zimmer, H. G. (2006). "August Krogh". Clinical Cardiology. 29 (5): 231–233. doi:10.1002/clc.4960290514. PMC 6653951. PMID 16739398.
  7. ^ Rehberg, P. B. (1951). "August Krogh, November 15, 1874-September 13, 1949". The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 24 (2): 83–102. PMC 2599127. PMID 14901880.
  8. ^ Larsen, E. H. (2007). "August Krogh (1874-1949): 1920 Nobel Prize". Ugeskrift for Laeger. 169 (35): 2878. PMID 17877986.
  9. ^ Sulek, K. (1967). "Nobel prize for August Krogh in 1920 for his discovery of regulative mechanism in the capillaries". Wiadomosci Lekarskie. 20 (19): 1829. PMID 4870667.
  10. ^ a b "August Krogh - Facts". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  11. ^ a b c "The Founders". Novo Nordisk. Archived from the original on 16 July 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  12. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X.
  13. ^ a b "George de Hevesy: Explosion of new knowledge". Niels Bohr Institute. 2014-09-11. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  14. ^ "August Krogh". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  15. ^ "August Krogh". www.nasonline.org. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  16. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  17. ^ Schmidt-Nielsen, Bodil (1995). August and Marie Krogh : lives in science. New York: American Physiological Society. ISBN 9780195090994.
  18. ^ Dantzler, William H. (July 2015). "Obituary Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen (1918-2015) 48th APS President". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  19. ^ Living history of physiology: Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen (Prof. William Dantzler. University of Arizona) [1] Archived 2008-12-26 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ 48th APS President (1975-1976)Bodil M. Schmidt-Nielsen (American Physiological Society) "© the American Physiological Society - Bodil M. Schmidt-Nielsen". Archived from the original on 2009-11-21. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
  21. ^ Krogh, August; Weis-Fogh, Torkel (1951). "The Respiratory Exchange of the Desert Locust (Schistocerca Gregaria) before, During and After Flight". Journal of Experimental Biology. 28 (3). The Company of Biologists: 344–357. doi:10.1242/jeb.28.3.344.
  22. ^ Fournier, R. L. Basic Transport Phenomena in Biomedical Engineering. Taylor & Francis, London, 1999.
  23. ^ Choi et al. Microfluidic scaffolds for tissue engineering. Nature Materials (2007) vol. 6 pp. 908-915
  24. ^ Bernard, Claude. Introduction à l'étude de la médecine expérimentale, J.B. Baillière et Fils, Libraires de L'Académie Impériale de Médecine, 1865. pp. 400

External links[edit]

  • August Krogh on Nobelprize.org Edit this at Wikidata including the Nobel Lecture on December 11, 1920 A Contribution to the Physiology of the Capillaries