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Robert Koch

Robert KochAKA Robert Heinrich Hermann Koch

Born: 11-Dec-1843
Birthplace: Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany
Died: 27-May-1910
Location of death: Baden-Baden, Germany
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Cremated, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Doctor

Nationality: Germany
Executive summary: Germ theory of disease

Military service: Field physician, Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)

German physician and early bacteriologist Robert Koch discovered the cause of several infectious diseases, put to rest the previously-prevalent medical belief that most diseases were caused by "bad air", and won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1905. He worked for several years at a struggling private practice and as a field physician in the Franco-Prussian War before being appointed district medical officer in the small town of Wollstein (then near the Polish border and now Wolsztyn, Poland). After receiving a microscope as a gift from his wife on his 29th birthday, he converted a corner of his Wollstein clinic to a laboratory and began studying his patients' diseases. He explained the disease cycle of anthrax in 1876, found the cause of tuberculosis in 1882, and discovered the bacteria that causes cholera in 1883.

Of arguably more importance, Koch devised new techniques for preparing microscopic slides in 1877, spreading a liquid gelatin on glass plates to form a transparent but solid medium on which permanent bacterial smears could be affixed with the application of low-level heat. In 1881 he described his method for obtaining pure cultures, which formed the basis for the developing field of bacteriology in isolating disease-causing organisms. In 1890 he presented what is now called Koch's postulates, four elementary rules still used for determining whether a given bacteria is the cause of a specific disease:

1. The bacteria must be present in every case of the disease.
2. The bacteria must be isolated from the host with the disease and grown in pure culture.
3. The specific disease must be reproduced when a pure culture of the bacteria is inoculated into a healthy susceptible host.
4. The bacteria must be recoverable from the experimentally infected host.

Father: Hermann Koch (mine foreman)
Mother: Mathilde Julie Henriette Biewend
Wife: Emmy Adolfine Josephine Fraatz (m. 1866, div. 1893)
Daughter: Gertrud (b. 1868)
Wife: Hedwig Freiberg (actress, b. circa 1876, m. 1893)

    Medical School: Klausthal Gymnasium, Klausthal, Germany (1862)
    Medical School: MD, University of Göttingen (1866)
    Administrator: Institute for Infectious Diseases/Robert Koch Institute (1885-1910)
    Professor: Hygiene and Bacteriology, University of Berlin (1885-90)

    Order of the Crown with Star 1884
    Harben Medal 1901
    Order of Wilhelm 1904
    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1905
    Prussian Order Pour le Mérite 1906
    Robert Koch Medal 1908
    German Official Wollstein District Medical Officer:1872-79
    German Official Breslau Chief City Physician:1879-80
    German Official Imperial Health Department:1880-85
    Berlin Medical Society
    French Academy of Sciences 1902 (Foreign Member)
    Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences
    Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
    Heart Attack 9-Apr-1910
    Heart Attack 27-May-1910 (fatal)
    German Ancestry
    Lunar Crater Koch (42.8° S 150.1° E, 95 km. diameter)

Author of books:
Essays of Robert Koch (1987, essays; posthumous)


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