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December 25, 1996

Cyberconference Helps Archivists Manage Trove of Scientific Papers

Author Affiliations

JAMA contributor

JAMA. 1996;276(24):1935-1937. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540240013007

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IN A RESEARCH career that began in 1919 and continued for nearly 6 decades at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md, Psychobiologist Curt P. Richter, PhD (1894-1988), observed more than 20000 animals, often for their entire lifespans. He kept— and saved—meticulous records on every one, from rodents to humans, creating a mountain of logbooks, charts, and graphs.

An investigator with encyclopedic interests, Richter, who died in 1988:

• found that rats deprived of salt, protein, fat, and other nutrients developed specific hungers for the missing substances;

• localized the hypothalamus as the site of the biological clock;

• charted the natural history of the grasp reflex from cradle to grave;

• documented the impact of domestication on wild rats;

• tied alterations in biological rhythms to psychiatric illness;

• and anticipated modern chaos theory as applied to medical illness.

While Richter published more than 375 scientific papers,