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,