- James A. Marcum
Forbes, Alexander (14 May 1882–27 March 1965), neurophysiologist, physician, and explorer, was born in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of William Hathaway Forbes, the first president of the Bell Telephone Company, and Edith Emerson, the daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Forbes received his early education at the Milton Academy and in 1900 matriculated at Harvard College, after a year of travel in the western United States and then in Europe. In 1904 he received an A.B. from Harvard and the following year an M.A. Before undertaking medical training at Harvard, Forbes spent another year in the western United States, living with his brother in a cabin in Wyoming. Forbes married Charlotte Irving Grinell in June 1910; the couple would have four children. That year Harvard awarded Forbes a medical doctorate, and he became a member of the American Physiological Society, which he later served as treasurer from 1927 to 1936. He did postgraduate studies in 1911–1912 with Charles S. Sherrington in Liverpool, England, investigating the reflexes of decerebrate animals. While in England, Forbes also visited Keith Lucas at Cambridge for several weeks. Returning to the United States, he worked with H. B. Williams, the Dalton Professor of Physiology at Columbia University, measuring reflex times with an Einthoven string galvanometer (a device invented by Willem Einthoven in 1902 to measure electrical currents in the heart)....