Paul Ehrlich

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Paul Ehrlich (14 March 1854 – 20 August 1915) was a German scientist in the fields of hematology, immunology, and chemotherapy, and Nobel laureate. He is noted for curing syphilis and for his research in autoimmunity, calling it "horror autotoxicus". He coined the term chemotherapy and popularized the concept of a magic bullet.

Contents

Biography

Early years

Paul Ehrlich was born into a Jewish family in Strehlen, in the German Kingdom of Prussia, Province of Silesia, (now in Poland). As a schoolboy and student of medicine, he was interested in staining microscopic tissue substances.

Research

In his dissertation at the University of Leipzig, he picked up the topic again ("Contributions to the Theory and Practice of Histological Staining", Beiträge zur Theorie und Praxis der histologischen Färbung). He married Hedwig Pinkus (then aged 19) in 1883. The couple had two daughters, named Stephanie and Marianne. After his clinical education and habilitation ("The Need of the Organism for Oxygen ", Das Sauerstoffbedürfnis des Organismus) at the Charité in Berlin in 1886 he received a call from Robert Koch to join the Institute of Infectious Diseases in Berlin (1891).

Ehrlich spent two years in Egypt, recovering from tuberculosis. Thereafter he worked with his friend Emil Adolf von Behring on the development of a diphtheria serum.

These works inspired Ehrlich's famous side-chain theory (Seitenkettentheorie) from 1897. This theory explained the effects of serum and enabled measurement of the amount of antigen. In 1896 Ehrlich became the director of the newly founded Institute of Serum Research and Examination (Institut für Serumforschung und Serumprüfung) in Steglitz (Berlin). In 1899 the institute was moved to Frankfurt (Main) and extended into the Royal Institute of Experimental Therapy (Institut für experimentelle Therapie). Here Ehrlich researched chemotherapy and infectious diseases. In 1904 Ehrlich became honorary professor of the University of Göttingen.[1]

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