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Rediscovery of Otto Frank's contribution to science.

Kuhtz-Buschbeck, Johann P.; Drake-Holland, Angela; Noble, Mark I.M.; Lohff, Brigitte; Schaefer, Jochen


Johann P. Kuhtz-Buschbeck

Angela Drake-Holland

Mark I.M. Noble

Brigitte Lohff

Jochen Schaefer


In the late 19th century, German physiologist Otto Frank (1865-1944) embarked on a near life-long research program of laying down the mathematical, methodological, and theoretical foundations in order to understand and define the performance of the heart and circulatory system in all their complexity. The existence of the 'Frank-Starling law' testifies to this. Two of his seminal publications have been translated into English previously, introducing Frank's research on the dynamics of the heart and the arterial pulse to a wider audience. It is likely that there are a host of other comparable achievements and publications of Frank that are still unknown to the international scientific (cardiological and physiological) community. However, their influence can still be felt and seen in modern cardiology and cardio-physiology, such as in the development of modern interactive simulating and teaching programs. We have translated and commented on ten of these papers, which can be read in parallel with the German originals. These publications show a wealth of theoretical assumptions and projections regarding the importance of the sarcomere, the development of models of contraction, thermo-dynamical considerations for muscular activity, differences between cardiac and skeletal muscles, problems related to methodology and measurement, and the first pressure-volume diagram (published 120 years ago). These topics were envisioned by Frank long before they became a focus of subsequent modern research. Nowadays, frequent measurements of pressure-volume relationships are made in research using the pressure-volume conductance catheter technique. In commenting Frank's scientific topics, we try to show how interconnected his thinking was, and thus how it enabled him to cover such a wide range of subjects. The authors regret that the following source was not mentioned. The portrait of the physiologist Otto Frank, shown on the front cover of JMCC volume 119 (June 2018), was kindly provided by the archive of University of Giessen/Germany copyright/permission: Universitätsarchiv Giessen/Germany Sign. HR A 114 a). The authors would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.


KUHTZ-BUSCHBECK, J.P., DRAKE-HOLLAND, A., NOBLE, M.I.M., LOHFF, B. and SCHAEFER, J. 2018. Rediscovery of Otto Frank's contribution to science. Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology [online], 119, pages 96-103. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 30, 2018
Online Publication Date May 1, 2018
Publication Date Jun 30, 2018
Deposit Date May 7, 2018
Publicly Available Date May 7, 2018
Journal Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Print ISSN 0022-2828
Electronic ISSN 1095-8584
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 119
Pages 96-103
Keywords Otto Frank; Theoretical foundations of cardiophysiology; Modeling of cardiovascular function; FrankStarling law; Pressurevolume diagram; Classic articles
Public URL


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