Augustus Desiré Waller

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Portrait of A.D. Waller Wellcome M0012782.jpg
A.D. Waller in his laboratory with apparatus and cat. Photograph of his dog "Jimmy" with electrodes.

Augustus Desiré Waller FRS (12 July 1856 – 11 March 1922) was a British physiologist and the son of Augustus Volney Waller. He was born in Paris, France.

He studied medicine at Aberdeen University, where he qualified in 1878 and obtained his M.D. in 1881.[1] In 1883, he became a lecturer in physiology at the London School of Medicine for Women. Whilst there he met his wife,[2] Alice Palmer, who was one of his students and daughter of George Palmer, MP for Reading and founder of the biscuit manufacturers Huntley and Palmer.[1]

In 1884 he became a lecturer in physiology at St Mary's Hospital. In 1887 he used a capillary electrometer to record the first human electrocardiogram.[3]

He created the first practical ECG machine with surface electrodes.[4] He lectured on it in Europe and America, often using his dog Jimmy in his ECG demonstrations.[5] Initially Waller did not think electrocardiograms would be useful in hospitals. However, eventually other physiologists such as Willem Einthoven and Thomas Lewis showed Waller that the traces could help diagnose heart conditions. In 1917, a few years before his death, Waller published a study of over 2000 traces of heart conditions.[3]

He was appointed Fullerian Professor of Physiology in 1896 with a starting date of 13 January 1897.[6]

He died in London, after suffering from two strokes.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Augustus Waller". Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  2. ^ Cope, Z (1973). "Augustus Desiré Waller (1856–1922)". Medical History. 17 (4): 380–385. doi:10.1017/s0025727300018998. PMC 1081500. PMID 4606255.
  3. ^ a b "Augustus Désiré Waller (1856–1922)". Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b Besterman E, Creese R. (July 1979). "Waller—pioneer of electrocardiography". British Heart Journal. 42 (1): 61–64. doi:10.1136/hrt.42.1.61. PMC 482113. PMID 383122.
  5. ^ Henderson, John (1 April 2005). "Servants of Medicine: Augustus Waller—father and son physiologists". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 98 (4): 185–186. doi:10.1258/jrsm.98.4.185-a. ISSN 0141-0768. PMC 1079454.
  6. ^ Lockyer, Sir Norman (5 November 1896). "Augustus D. Waller appointed Fullerian Professor". Nature. Vol. 55. p. 11.

Further reading[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by Fullerian Professor of Physiology
Succeeded by