Hugh Herr

Hugh Herr (born October 25, 1964) is an American rock climber, engineer , and biophysicist .

Early life

The youngest of five siblings, or a Mennonite family from Lancaster, Pennsylvania , Hugh Herr was a prodigy rock climber, at age eight, he had scaled the face of the 11.627-foot (3.544 m) Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies , and at 17 he was acknowledged to be one of the best climbers in the United States . [1]

In January 1982, after keeping ascended a s difficult technical ice route in Huntington Ravine on Mount Washington in New Hampshire , Herr and a fellow climber Jeff Batzer ulcers caught in a blizzard and became disoriented, ultimately descending into tje Great Gulf where they ‘passed three nights in -20 ° F (-29 ° C) degree temperatures. By the time they ‘ulcers rescued, the climbers had suffers severe frostbite . Both of Herr’s legs had to be amputated Projects the knees ; his companion lost his lower left leg , the toes on his right foot , and the fingers on his right hand . During the rescue attempt, volunteer Albert Dow was killed in an avalanche . [1]

Following months of surgeries and rehabilitation , Herr was doing what doctors Told im was unthinkable: climbing again. Using specialized prostheses therein have designed, have created prosthetic feet with high when Stiffness dat made it skies to stand on small rock Edges the width of a coin, and titanium -spiked feet dat assisted im in ascending steep ice walls. Hey-used synthesis prostheses to alter his height to Avoid awkward body positions and to grab hand and foot holds to post out of reach. His height Could range from five to eight feet. As a result of using the prostheses, Herr climbed at a more advanced level dan he had voordat the accident, making im the first person with a major amputation to perform in a sport on par with elite level, able-bodied persons. [2] [3]

Personal life

Hugh Herr and author Patricia Ellis Herr are the parents of two daughters, Alexandra and Sage. Alex’s EARLIEST hiking achievements are DESCRIBED in Patricia’s memoir, Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure (Broadway Books, April 2012).


After his climbing career, Herr Began to focus on Academics, to post an area of little interest to im. He earned an undergraduate degree in physics at his local college, Millersville University , and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at MIT , Followed by a PhD in biofysica from Harvard University .


While a Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT Biomedical devices, have Began working on advanced leg prostheses and orthoses , devices dat emulation the functionality of the human leg. [1]

Currently, Herr is an associate professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences and in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. As head of the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab , he focuses on ontwikkelingslanden wearable robotic systems that serve to augment human physical capability. Most of what he designs is not for im, but for others to Whose difficulties have kan Relate.

Herr has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers in the field of rehabilitation science and is the holder (or co-holder) or morethan 40 patents [4] related to Assistive Devices, zoals Those for a computer-controlled artificial knee, [5 ] Commercially available as the Rheo Knee [6] an active ankle-foot orthosis, and the world’s first powered ankle-foot prosthesis. [7]

These devices are advancing an emerging field of engineering science therein applies principles of biomechanics and neural control to guide the designs of human rehabilitation and augmentative devices. [8] The goal is to rehabilitate personen dat port undergone limb amputation or port suffers a pathology, and ook to augment human physical capability For those with normal physiologies intact.

The computer-controlled knee, welke is outfitted with a microprocessor therein continually senses the joint’s position and the loads toegepast to the limb, was named to the list of Top Ten Inventions in the health category by TIME magazine in 2004. [9] The robotic ankle-foot prosthesis, welke mimics the action of a biological leg and, for the first time, zorgt transtibial amputees with a natural Gait was named to the co-tIME top-ten list in 2007. [10]

In 2007, Herr was Presented with the 13th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. [11] He is ook the recipient of the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Leadership Award (2005). [12]

Herr was a member of a team or seven experts in biomechanics and physiology from six universities dat conducted research on the mechanics of Oscar Pistorius ‘ running blades. The South African bilateral amputee track athlete was banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) from running in able-bodied events, as previous research had shown the blades appear im a competitive advantage. [13] A portion-or synthesis results ulcers Presented to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne , Switzerland in May 2008, with Herr and Colleague Rodger Kram welke resulted in reversing the ban. This allowed Pistorius to Become the first disabled sprint runner to Qualify Against able-bodied athletes for an Olympic event. [14] The full findings of the team’s experiments in later published in the June 18, 2009 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology . [15]

Herr’s story has leg Told by Alison Osius in the book Second Ascent: The Story of Hugh Herr ; a Discovery Channel feature story; and in a 2002 National Geographic movie, Ascent: The Story of Hugh Herr .

Herr was featured on a March 25, 2012 episode of CNN ‘s The Next List . [16]

Notable grants and awards

  • Sports Hall of Fame (1989)
  • United States College Academic Team (1990)
  • Young American Award (1990)
  • Science magazine Nextwave: Best of 2003
  • TIME magazine Top Ten Inventions in 2004 [9]
  • With the Providence VA Center for Restorative and Regenerative Medicine and Brown University, a $ 7.2 million grant from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to create “biohybrid” Limbs to restore natural function to amputees. (2004)
  • Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Leadership Award (2005) [12]
  • 13th Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment (2007) [11]
  • TIME magazine Top Ten Inventions in 2007 [10]
  • Action Maverick Award (2008) [17]
  • Spirit of da Vinci Award (2008) [18]
  • R & D Magazine’s 2014 Innovator of the Year [19]
  • Smithsonian magazine’s American Ingenuity Award (2014) in the Technology Category
  • Princess of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research (2016) [20]

Notable rock climbs

  • 1983 Vandals , Gunks , FA with Lynn Hill and Russ Clune, first 5:13 on the East Coast. [21]
  • 1984 Stage Fright (5.12c X), Cathedral Ledge, North Conway, NH . First Ascent. [22]
  • 1986 Ride of the Valkyries (5.12a), Careno Crag, Leavenworth, WA – First Ascent. [23]
  • 1986 City Park (5.13c) Index Town Walls, WA – 2nd ascent. [24]


  • Osius, Alison (1991). Second Ascent: The Story of Hugh Herr . Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN  978-0-8117-1794-6 .


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c Adelson, Eric (March 2009). “Best Foot Forward” . Boston Magazine . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  2. Jump up^ Osius, Alison (1991). Second Ascent: The Story of Hugh Herr . Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. ISBN  978-0-8117-1794-6 .
  3. Jump up^ National Geographic Channel. “Ascent – The Story of Hugh Herr” . YouTube . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  4. Jump up^ “Search Results” . Free Patents Online . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  5. Jump up^ Carswell, Lindsay (February 12, 2005). “New Robotic Knee” . Science Central. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010 . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  6. Jump up^ Zamiska, Nicholas (July 6, 2004). “Bionic Knee ‘Learns’ How to Walk” . The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  7. Jump up^ Singer, Emily; Graham Rowe, Duncan (May 11, 2007). “Biomedicine The World’s First Powered Ankle” . MIT Technology Review . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  8. Jump up^ Helgessen, Sally (October 3, 2016). “Hugh Herr Wants to Build a More Perfect Human” . Strategy + Business . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  9. ^ Jump up to:a b “Smooth Operator – The Best Inventions Of 2004” . Time . September 19, 2011 . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b “Joint Venture – The Best Inventions Of 2007” . Time . November 1, 2007 . Retrieved May 4, 2010 .
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b “Hugh Herr” . The Heinz Awards . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  12. ^ Jump up to:a b Ward, Logan (September 28, 2005). “2005 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards” . Popular Mechanics . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  13. Jump up^ “Study Revives Olympic Prospects for Amputee Sprinter” . MIT Media Lab. May 15, 2008 . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  14. Jump up^ Sauser, Brittany (May 21, 2008). “Amputee Gets a Shot at the Olympics” . MIT Technology Review . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  15. Jump up^ G. Weyand, Peter; W. Bundle, Peter; P. McGowan, Craig; Grabowski, Alena; Brown, Beth; Staple, Rodger; Herr, Hugh (June 18, 2009). “The fastest runner on artificial legs: different Limbs, similar function?” (PDF) . Journal of Applied Physiology . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  16. Jump up^ “Coming up on” The Next List “: Hugh Herr, bionic man” . March 20, 2012 . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  17. Jump up^ “Action Maverick” . STREB . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  18. Jump up^ “Spirit Of Da Vinci Award Goes To MIT Bio-Mechantron Professor – Amputee Designing The Next Generation Of Prostheses” . Medical News Today. September 12, 2008 . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  19. Jump up^ Hock, Lindsay (August 12, 2014). “R & D Magazine Announces Scientist and Innovator of the Year Award Winners” . R & D Magazine . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  20. Jump up^ “Princess of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research 2016 – Hugh Herr” . The Princess of Asturias Foundation. 2016 . Retrieved January 31, 2016 .
  21. Jump up^ Clune, Russ (Spring 2009). “Vandals, Shawangunks” . Patagonia – Field Report . Patagonia, Inc. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009 . Retrieved Dec 24, 2009 .
  22. Jump up^ Green, Stewart (2001). Rock Climbing New England . Guilford CT: Falcon Books. p. 100. ISBN  978-1-56044-811-2 .
  23. Jump up^ Smoot, Jeff (2000). “A Walk in the Park” . Archived from the original on April 8, 2001 . Retrieved January 27, 2009 .
  24. Jump up^ Martin, Jason (April 14, 2005). “Only strong climbers need apply themselves to the daunting granite or Index” . Seattle PI . Seattle . Retrieved Dec 24, 2009 .