Barany, Robert (1876-1936), an Austrian physiologist, investigated the roles of the brain and ear in human equilibrium. He devised simple procedures to diagnose problems with the vestibular organs, the parts of the inner ear responsible for balance.
The inner ear has semicircular canals, which can be tested by irrigating the ears with hot and cold water, a technique known as the Barany caloric reaction. For his work with the equilibrium apparatus, Barany won the 1914 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. In his later career, he studied how the inner ear and the nervous system work together to support body balance and coordination.
Barany received his medical degree from the University of Vienna in 1900. He then spent two years studying internal medicine and the nervous system at clinics in Germany. Following that, he trained as a surgeon in Vienna. When his instruction ended, he accepted a job at the University of Vienna ear clinic, where he became a teacher in 1909.
During World War I (1914-1918), Barany served as a medical officer, where he improved the surgical procedures to treat head wounds. In April 1915, the Russians captured Barany, and word of his Nobel Prize reached him while he was being held in a prison camp. After his release in 1916, Barany returned to Vienna. His homecoming became disappointing when colleagues accused him of failing to acknowledge their contribution to his work. Although the allegations were proven baseless, Barany left Austria for a job as director of the Otological Institute at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, where he remained until his death.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Barany received the Belgian Academy of Science Prize (1913), the ERB Medal of the German Neurological Society (1913), the Guyot Prize from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands (1914), and the Jubilee Medal of the Swedish Society of Medicine (1925).
Barany was married to Ida Felicitas Berger, with whom he had three children.