August 25, 1901-May 1, 1983
BY HORACE W. DAVENPORT
Maurice Visscher was a physiologist who made two important contributions to his science. His own early opinion was that the more important was his demonstration that heart muscle becomes less efficient as it fails and that cardiotonic drugs tend to restore its efficiency. Later he concluded that his pioneer use of isotopes to define and measure the absorption of electrolytes by the small intestine was more important. Knowledgeable physiologists, including some of his own students, agreed with Visscher's revised judgment.
Maurice Bolks Visscher was born on August 25, 1901, in Holland, Michigan, the fourth of six children of Dutch Calvinists whose own parents had been members of a large group that had migrated to western Michigan in the 1840s to escape religious and economic oppression. Those immigrants had established churches, schools, and colleges before they finished building their own homes. Maurice Visscher attended high school and Hope College in his home town, and he thought himself fortunate in having stimulating biology teachers in both high school and college. His teacher at Hope College made Visscher a teaching assistant and charged him to do a research project, studying pollution of local streams and a lake caused by