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August von Wassermann

AKA August Paul von Wassermann

Born: 21-Feb-1866
Birthplace: Bamberg, Germany
Died: 16-Mar-1925
Location of death: Berlin, Germany
Cause of death: Kidney failure

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Biologist, Doctor

Nationality: Germany
Executive summary: Syphilis test

Military service: German Army (military doctor, WWI)

In 1906, physician August von Wassermann adapted Jules Bordet's complement-fixation reaction to develop what is now called the Wassermann test, a blood-serum reaction that detects antibodies to Treponema pallidum, causative agent for syphilis. It accurately indicated presence of the dreaded sexually transmitted disease, a potentially lethal condition which can have a very long latency period with no discernable symptoms. The test has been modified and improved in the century since, but the basic principles of the Wassermann reaction remain unchanged. Wassermann also researched cholera, tetanus, and cerebrospinal fever, and developed a test for tuberculosis and an antitoxin against diphtheria. He studied under Paul Ehrlich, who later developed the first effective therapy for syphilis, and he worked under bacteriologist Robert Koch, who determined the cause of tuberculosis.

Father: Angelo Wassermann (banker)
Mother: Dora Bauer Wassermann
Wife: Alice von Taussig (m. 1895, two sons)

    High School: Bamberg Gymnasium, Bamberg, Germany
    University: University of Erlangen
    University: University of Munich
    University: University of Vienna
    Medical School: MD, University of Strasbourg (1888)
    Teacher: Humboldt University, Berlin (1891-98)
    Professor: Humboldt University, Berlin (1898-1913)
    Scholar: Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, Berlin, Germany (1891-1913)
    Director: Experimental Therapy, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Berlin, Germany (1913-25)

    Aronson Foundation Prize 1921
    Academy for Knowledge of Judaism President
    Berlin Medical Society
    Free Association for Microbiology
    International Congress of Hygiene and Demography
    Director of the Office of Hygiene and Bacteriology (Prussian gov't)
    Bavarian Ancestry
    German Ancestry
    Jewish Ancestry

Author of books:
Handbuch der Pathogenen Mikroorganismen (Handbook of Pathogenic Microorganisms) (1903, with Wilhelm Kolle; six volumes)
Die Bedeutung der Bakterien fur die Gesundheitspflege (The Importance of Bacteria in Health Care) (1905)

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