Rudolf Magnus (1873-1927)
In 1908 Utrecht University appointed Rudolf Magnus as professor in the 'science of drugs and pharmacology'. He was the first pharmacologist in the Netherlands and amazingly popular. In 1925 the Utrecht Student Association serenaded him because he had made the decision not to return to Heidelberg (Germany) where he was offered a chair and an excellent laboratory awaited him. The facilities in Utrecht were poor but still enabled him to write his main work 'Die Körperstellung' (1924) about the reflexes that enable mammals to find and maintain the optimal posture. Magnus also researched the pharmacology of the heart and arteries, the effect of drugs on the gastrointestinal tract, the peristalsis of the intestine and the influence of narcotics and poison gas on the lungs. Part of this latter research was carried out in Germany where he had to serve as an army doctor during the First World War.
Due to his formidable international reputation he persuaded the Rockefeller Foundation into donating a considerable sum for the construction of a new laboratory. Magnus laid the first stone in 1926 but was never to work there. He died in 1927 leaving the university in mourning.
The archives of the Nobel committee, which become public after fifty years, have shown that he was among the nominees in 1926 and in 1927. Only his unforeseen death stood in the way of granting him the Prize in 1927.
Utrecht University named a research school after Rudolf Magnus.