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Professor Robert Koch
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Professor Robert Koch

Professor Robert Koch
and Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow
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Lot Essay

It was Professor Robert Koch (1843-1910) who discovered the comma bacillus, a small fungus the immense multiplication of which is the cause of cholera. He lived and worked in Germany for most of his life, served as a medical officer in the Franco-Prussian War from 1870-1872 and conducted important and ground-breaking research into the transmission of anthrax. He also discovered the tubercle bacillus and in 1882 published an important paper on tuberculosis based in his research. The following year he was sent to Egypt as leader of the German Cholera Commission and his work on the disease would continue for the next ten years, culminating in an award of 10,000 German marks for his pioneering research. He also worked on rindepest in South Africa, and on malaria, blackwater fever, the plague and surra in cattle and horses whilst in Africa and in India.
He was awarded numerous medals and awards from countries throughout Europe, the culmination of which was the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1905.

Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902) was born in Schivelbein, Pomerania, Prussia, and became a doctor in medicine in 1843. His was an extraordinary career: he was heralded as the founder of cellular pathology; during the Franco-Prussian war he lead the first hospital train to the front lines to attend the injured; he introduced the standardised technique to perform autopsies; he was a champion of social reform, much to his government's chagrin, and of public health, to eradicated disease before it might infect the body; and he fought for medical education in Prussia that it might be unified and more focused on clinical training. In addition he founded the German Anthropological Society (1869) and the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory.


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