The Archives of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library houses a collection of professional papers, research notebooks, and personal manuscripts of renowned, early 20th- century French physiologist Louis Lapicque.
Born August 1, 1866, Louis Lapicque was a pioneer in the field of neural excitability. One of his main contributions was to propose the integrate-and-fire model of the neuron in an article published in 1907. This model is still one of the most popular models in computational and mathematical neuroscience. The Lapicque concepts of excitability and nerve transmission form a part of the basic framework of modern neurophysiology.
Louis Lapicque completed his doctorate at the Paris Medical School. He married Marcelle de Heredia, one of his notable students, on May 14, 1902. Marcelle completed her doctoral studies under Lapicque in 1903, concentrating on the nerve impulse. Lapicque and his wife worked closely together for nearly fifty years in the Sorbonne Laboratoire de Physiologie, publishing over 80 articles. They devoted their life work to the study of what they termed the chronaxie of the nerve – the nerve response over time under various physiological conditions. Together they brought physiology in France to world recognition.
Louis Lapicque died in Paris on December 6, 1952. Marcelle de Heredia Lapicque took over the directorship of the Sorbonne Laboratoire de Physiologie until her death in 1962.
Held in the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library’s Archives, the Louis Lapicque Papers contain original handwritten lab books, journals of travel, a ship log for Lapicque’s yacht, manuscripts for papers, journal reprints, bibliographies of the research work of Lapicque and Alexandre Marcel Monnier, obituaries and biographical articles written by Lapicque and Monnier, and correspondence with both Lapicque and Monnier. For a detailed description of this collection, see the Guide to the Louis Lapicque Papers.
For a more thorough biography of Louis Lapicque and further information on the collections in the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, please see the Treasures of the P.I. Nixon Library blog.