Monday, May 23, 2022

Robert Heinrich Hermann Koch

Robert Heinrich Hermann Koch, German physician and one of the founders of bacteriology discovered the anthrax disease cycle (1876) and the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis (1882) and cholera (1883). Robert Koch was born on December 11, 1843, at Clausthal in the Upper Harz Mountains. He taught himself to read newspapers when he was only 5.

He loved to read classical literature and was a chess expert. He gained an interest in science while in high school, and decided to study biology. In 1862 Koch went to the University of Göttingen to study medicine. Here the Professor of Anatomy was Jacob Henle and Koch was, no doubt, influenced by Henle’s view, published in 1840, that infectious diseases were caused by living, parasitic organisms. Koch acquired his medical degree in 1866.

After working as a physician in many small towns throughout Germany, he volunteered as a military surgeon during the Franco-Prussian war (1870-72).

After serving briefly as a field surgeon during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, he became district surgeon in Wollstein, where he built a small laboratory. It was here that he started his work on anthrax. Having published the results in 1876 Koch decided to investigate septicæmia and followed that by studying tuberculosis.

In 1880 he was appointed a member of the Imperial Health Bureau in Berlin, that he was provided, first with a narrow, inadequate room, and later with a better laboratory. He made his first major contribution, which was developing a technique of growing bacteria. He also isolated and grew selected pathogens in a laboratory culture.

Some two years after his arrival in Berlin Koch discovered the tubercle bacillus and also a method of growing it in pure culture. He demonstrated the bacillus at the International Medical Congress in London in 1881 and published his work at a meeting in Berlin the following year.

He was still busy with work on tuberculosis when he was sent, in 1883, to Egypt as Leader of the German Cholera Commission, to investigate an outbreak of cholera in that country. In 1885 Koch was appointed Professor of Hygiene at the University of Berlin and Director of the new Institute of Hygiene

He received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1905 for his research on tuberculosis. Koch died on 27 May in 1910 in Black Forest region of Germany. He was 66 years old.
Robert Heinrich Hermann Koch

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