Rudolf Virchow (German Edition)

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Virchow was celebrated last week in Berlin. We say the German people, because the entire nation associated itself with the scientific societies in doing honour to the illustrious investigator of whose achievements it has for many a day been so justly proud.

Everyone who devotes the slightest attention to science is aware that Prof. Virchow occupies a prominent place among the foremost intellectual leaders of the present age.

Medical investigations

The science of pathology as it is now understood and taught we owe, indeed, mainly to his insight and labour, and the recent advances which have been made in it by other explorers have been made on the lines he has traced. If Prof. Virchow had done nothing else for science, this alone would have secured for him imperishable fame; but his energies are so varied that it has been impossible for him to content himself with one department of research.

Virchow long ago made himself a great power in Germany. He has missed no opportunity of expounding the laws of public health, and of insisting upon their importance; and a striking testimony to the value of his work in this direction may be seen in the improved sanitary condition of the German capital.

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By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. Over the next several years, Virchow became enmeshed in various causes in the medical community. He wrote theses on rheumatic diseases and he rubbed elbows with some of the most advanced medical minds of the time.

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In he became the assistant to pathologist Robert Froreip, who introduced him to the field of pathology or the study of diseases, as well as microbiology and microscopy. Just a year later, Virchow published his first scientific paper in which he described the pathology of leukemia for the first time in medical history.

Virchow discovered that white cells, when abnormally increased, will cause a near-fatal blood disease. From this observation, he theorized that abnormal cells are the most common cause of cancer.

Rudolf Virchow

In his further research of cancer, Virchow and another anatomist discovered that an enlarged supraclavicular node is the first sign of stomach or lung cancer. The paper allowed him to earn his first medical license. Two years later, he was enlisted by the Prussian government to study a typhus outbreak. The paper Virchow wrote from this study became a turning point in the discussion of public health.

For the first time, Virchow outlined how the study of disease went beyond an academic curiosity and was more of an agent to the people. Virchow joined the revolution by founding and printing a weekly newspaper devoted to educating the public about social medicine. Virchow continued to research and write about the human body as a microcosm for society at large. Perhaps the most well-known contribution Rudolf Virchow made to the medical field was his research on cell theory.

Virchow asserted that living cells do not spontaneously occur, but instead come from another living cell by way of cell division.

Rudolph Virchow, Pathologist, Armed Revolutionist, Politician, and Anthropologist

Later in life, Virchow was the first to discover that infectious diseases could be passed between animals and humans. He was one of the leading physicians who attended to Kaiser Frederick III, who was gravely ill with an indiscernible disease of the larynx.


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When the Kaiser died in , many blamed Virchow for malpractice and misdiagnosis, but his decisions in regards to the Kaiser were confirmed to be the right ones long after his death in Virchow was also one of the first people to create a systematic way of performing autopsies, one of which is still used today. He even paved the way for modern forensics as the first person to analyze a single hair for a criminal report and reported on how hair had its limitations as a form of incriminating evidence. A collection of his works were published in and are still today regarded as the basis of modern medical science.


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