Hans Selye

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Hans Hugo Bruno Selye, CC (Hungarian: Selye János) (January 26, 1907 — October 16, 1982) was a Canadian endocrinologist of Austro-Hungarian origin and Hungarian[1] ethnicity. Selye did much important scientific work on the hypothetical non-specific response of an organism to stressors. While he did not recognize all of the many aspects of glucocorticoids, Selye was aware of their role in the stress response. Some commentators[who?] consider him the first to demonstrate the existence of biological stress.



Selye was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary on 26 January 1907.[2] He became a Doctor of Medicine and Chemistry in Prague in 1929, went to Johns Hopkins University on a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship in 1931 and then went to McGill University in Montreal where he started researching the issue of stress in 1936. In 1945 he joined the Université de Montréal where he had 40 assistants and worked with 15,000 lab animals. Kantha (1992), in a survey of an elite group of scientists who have authored over 1,000 research publications, identified Selye as one who had published 1,700 research papers, 15 monographs and 7 popular books. He died on October 16, 1982 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Work on stress

His last inspiration for general adaptation syndrome (GAS, a theory of stress) came from an endocrinological experiment in which he injected mice with extracts of various organs. He at first believed he had discovered a new hormone, but was proved wrong when every irritating substance he injected produced the same symptoms (swelling of the adrenal cortex, atrophy of the thymus, gastric and duodenal ulcers). This, paired with his observation that people with different diseases exhibit similar symptoms, led to his description of the effects of "noxious agents" as he at first called it. He later coined the term "stress", which has been accepted into the lexicon of various other languages.

Selye has acknowledged the influence of Claude Bernard (who developed the idea of "milieu intérieur") and Walter Cannon's "homeostasis". Selye conceptualized the physiology of stress as having two components: a set of responses which he called the "general adaptation syndrome", and the development of a pathological state from ongoing, unrelieved stress.

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