On This Day … 18 December

People (Births)

  • 1884 – Emil Starkenstein, Czech pharmacologist, co-founded clinical pharmacology (d. 1942).

People (Deaths)

  • 1990 – Joseph Zubin, Lithuanian-American psychologist and academic (b. 1900).

Emil Starkenstein

Emil Starkenstein (18 December 1884 to 06 November 1942) was a Czech-Jewish pharmacologist and one of the founders of clinical pharmacology. He was killed in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp along with a few hundred refugees from Amsterdam after an incident in which a Dutch Jew resisted a Nazi patrol.

Emil Starkenstein was born in the Bohemian (now Czech) town of Poběžovice, (Ronsperg) to Jewish German parents. The family had many members who became local physician. Starkenstein researched and published a family tree in 1927 which traced his family roots as far back as 1350 and included such figures as R. Benjamin Wolf (1777-1851), R.Eleasar Löw, R. Moses Isserles (1520-1572), and several in the Katzenelbogen line, including R.Saul Wahl Katzenelbogen who, according to the glossary of the family tree, ‘became king of Poland for one night after the death of Stephen Bathory.

He was a professor at Charles University in Prague until the 1938 German occupation of Czechoslovakia. He continued his work as a refugee in the Netherlands. After the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1939, Starkenstein was confined to an area in Amsterdam with other Jews, where they were forced to wear yellow badges and banned from civil service employment. He was arrested and deported in 1941, via Prague and Terezin, to Mauthausen concentration camp. His wife and daughter survived in hiding in The Netherlands, and after the war his wife Marie (née Weil) donated his extensive collection of papers (more than 20,000 items) to the Czechoslovak state. In 2002, these papers were finally deposited in the archives of Charles University in Prague. In addition to the scientific papers, Starkenstein had one of the most impressive pharmacological libraries ever assembled. Before he was killed in the Nazi concentration camps, his family agreed to sell the collection to rare book dealer Ludwig Gottschalk, but when Gottschalk faced deportation to the camps himself, he secreted the library in several locations in the Black Forest and went into hiding. After the war, he reassembled the Starkenstein books and for nearly half a century sold items from the collection under the name Biblion, Inc., in Forest Hills, New York. A portion of the library was purchased by the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden. These 147 volumes, dealing primarily with the medicinal uses of plants, are identified by Starkenstein’s bookplate.

Joseph Zubin

Joseph Zubin (09 October 1900 to 18 December 1990) was a Lithuanian born American educational psychologist and an authority on schizophrenia who is commemorated by the Joseph Zubin Awards.


Zubin was born 09 October 1900 in Raseiniai, Lithuania, but moved to the US in 1908 and grew up in Baltimore. His first degree was in chemistry at Johns Hopkins University in 1921, and he earned a PhD in educational psychology at Columbia University in 1932. In 1934 he married Winifred Anderson (who survived him) and they had three children (2 sons, David and Jonathan, and a daughter, Winfred). At his death on 18 December 1990, he had seven grandchildren. In addition, his great-grandson is Adam Chapnik (he/him/his), counsellor of the Abbey (he/him/his) Unit at Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Wildwood Camp.


Zubin was President of both the American Psychopathological Association (1951-1952) and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (1971-1972) and received numerous awards for his work.[2] In 1946 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.

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