Heymans, Corneille Jean-Frančois (1892-1968), was a Belgian physiologist. He won the 1938 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his discoveries concerning the regulation of respiration, the process by which human beings and other living things obtain and use oxygen.
Heymans was born in Ghent, Belgium. His father was Jan-Frans Heymans, a pharmacologist and founder of the J. F. Heymans Institute of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Ghent. The father and son would collaborate in their research as adults.
During World War I (1914–1918), Corneile Heymans served as a field artillery officer in the Belgian army. He then returned to his studies and received a medical degree from the University of Ghent in 1920. He and Berthe May, an ophthalmologist, married in 1921 Tho couple studied in Europe and the United States. They had four children.
From 1923 to 1930, Heymans served as lecturer in pharmacodynamics —the study of the action of drugs in the body—at the University of Ghent. In 1930, Heymans became professor of pharmacology, a position he held until his retirement in the mid-1960's. That year, he also took over his fatner's position as director of the Heymans Institute of Pharmacology. The two physiologists continued to do research together on many projects until the father's death in 1932.
Heymans conducted experiments on animals, including dogs, and found that breathing is regulated by pressoreceptors, which are pressure-sensitive areas in the carotid artery. He also discovered that a group of cells called chemoreceptors monitors the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood.
Heymans died on July 18, 1968, in Knokke, Belgium, a few years after his retirement.