- September 28, 1921 - March 26, 2012
- Austin, Texas
of Gerhard's Passing
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Memories & CandlesPrevious
“Thank you fora allowing me to be part of your life. I was a faculty member in Pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh for a good deal of the...Read More »
1 of 7 | Posted by: Dr Clinton N Corder - OK
“I knew Dr. Werner when he was Director of Education at the Pittsburgh VA Hospital, but knew of him many years before that. He was a delightful,...Read More »
2 of 7 | Posted by: Gerald Goldstein - Pittsburgh, PA
“Marion, my symapathy. The Pittsburgh paper had a long and beautiful article. I lost my husband 12 years ago and I do understand. My love and best...Read More »
3 of 7 | Posted by: Florence Schwartz - Pittsburgh, PA
“Gerhard was to me a towering scholar but an old fashioned gentle man. He mentored me through getting my PhD. He was fiesty when confronting bad ideas...Read More »
4 of 7 | Posted by: Owen McNally
“May I offer my sincerest condolences to the family of Dr. Gerhard Werner. I worked with Dr. Werner in Biomedical Engineering at UT-Austin and found...Read More »
5 of 7 | Posted by: Ann Armstrong - Austin, TX
“Dr. Werner taught me so much as my psycotherapy supervisor when I was a resident at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. He was a wonderful and...Read More »
6 of 7 | Posted by: Judy Cohen, M.D. - Pittsburgh, PA
“Gerhard was a wonderful man. I am privileged to have known him. He served as a wonderful role model for me. I hope you are all doing well and I know...Read More »
7 of 7 | Posted by: Bruce Rabin - Pittsburgh, PA
Gerhard Werner, a pioneering neuroscientist, professor, and medical doctor, died on Monday, March 26, 2012 in Austin, Texas. He was 90.
Born in 1921, Gerhard Werner was a graduate of the Medical School of the University of Vienna, Austria, where he also studied mathematics and theoretical physics. His first academic appointment was in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Vienna Medical Center.
Dr. Werner was a scientist and a humanist. His first major discovery was the drug succinylcholine which is used as a medication for controlled muscle paralysis in anesthesiology. Its clinical usefulness has remained unsurpassed for the past sixty years. In the 1950s, he oversaw the creation of medical departments in Calcutta, India, and Sao Paulo, Brazil, under the auspices of the World Health Organization and the Rockefeller Foundation, respectively. Dr. Werner immigrated to the USA in 1957 to work with New York City's Cornell Medical College in a tenured position. During that period he discovered pharmacologically active receptors at mammalian motor nerve terminals. In 1960, he joined Professor Vernon B. Mountcastle at Johns Hopkins University where he studied the representation of tactile and joint sensation in the somatic area I of the cerebral cortex, introducing novel approaches for characterizing single neuron activity in relation to psychophysical functions. This work introduced him to computer science, which became a main part of his research for the next 50 years.
In 1965, Dr. Werner became Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, and in 1974, he was appointed as Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, and Vice President for Professional Affairs at the University Health Center. Following his retirement in 1989, he served as an Associate Chief of Staff at a Veterans Administration Medical Center in Pittsburgh and then as Research Scientist with Motorola in Austin, Texas.
As a member of the National Institute of Health (NIH), he was involved in the early development of the prototype for the personal computer during the LINC project. At the University of Pittsburgh, he helped develop an early AI-driven medical expert system, the PROPHET system. He had a long-standing interest in the theoretical grounding of brain-related dynamical systems. In 1985, he received the U.S. Senior Scientist award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
In 2002, Dr. Werner became an adjunct professor of the Department of Biomedical Engineering of The University of Texas at Austin and remained active in research covering areas of pharmacology, psychiatry, cognitive neuroscience, especially neurodynamics, artificial intelligence, and complexity theory. During his career, and continuing after his retirement in 1989, he published over a hundred scientific papers in professional journals. A voracious reader in philosophy, literature, and classics, he advised his students to read everything.
His numerous professional affiliations included the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Society of Medicine, the Harvey Society, the New York Academy of Science, and the International Brain Research Organization.
Dr. Werner lived in Austin, Texas. He is survived by his wife Marion, whom he married in 1958, son Philip, and daughter Karen.