Heinrich Müller (physiologist)

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Heinrich Müller (December 17, 1820 – May 10, 1864) was a German anatomist and professor at the University of Würzburg. He is best known for his work in comparative anatomy and his studies involving the eye.

He was a native of Castell, Lower Franconia. He was a student at several universities, being influenced by Ignaz Dollinger (1770-1841) in Munich, Friedrich Arnold (1803-1890) in Freiburg, Jakob Henle (1809-1895) in Heidelberg and Carl von Rokitansky (1804-1878) in Vienna. In 1847 he received his habilitation at Würzburg, where from 1858 he served as a full professor of topographical and comparative anatomy. As an instructor, he also taught classes in systematic anatomy, histology and microscopy.[1]

In 1851 Müller noticed the red color in rod cells now known as rhodopsin or visual purple, which is a pigment that is present in the rods of the retina. However, Franz Christian Boll (1849-1879) is credited as the discoverer of rhodopsin because he was able to describe its "visual pigment cycle".[2] Müller also described the fibers of neuroglia cells that make up the supporting framework of the retina. This structure was to become known as "Müller's fibers".

In 1856, with his colleague Albert von Kölliker (1817-1905), he showed that an electric current was produced from each contraction of a frog's heart.

Additional eponyms

Partial bibliography

  • Nachweis der negativen Schwankung des Muskelstroms am naturlich sich contrahirenden Muskel. Verhandlungen der Physikalisch-medizinische Gesellschaft in Würzburg, 1856, 6: 528-533. By Rudolph Albert von Kölliker (1817-1905) and Heinrich Müller.
  • Zur Histologie der Netzhaut. Zeitschrift für Wissenschaftliche Zoologie, 1851, 3: 234-237. Discovery of visual purple.

After his death, a large number of his works were published by Otto Becker (1828-1890) in a collection titled Heinrich Müller's gesammelte und hinterlassene Schriften zur Anatomie und Physiologie des Auges (Heinrich Müller's collected and bequeathed writings on the anatomy and physiology of the eye).[3]


  1. Deutsche Biographie Heinrich Müller
  2. Marmor, MF; Martin, LJ (1978). "100 years of the visual cycle". Survey of ophthalmology. 22 (4): 279–85. doi:10.1016/0039-6257(78)90074-7. PMID 345511.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Heinrich Müller - Bibliography @ Who Named It

External Reference