Rudolf Virchow is known for his advancement of public health and known as “the father of modern pathology” because he brought clarity and science to medicine, to those whom he worked with he was known as the “Pope of medicine”. Because his name is not the most known among people, we might ask ourselves who was this man that made such a large impact on modern-day pathology and medicine? Was he a man that came from a high class and wealthy family? What trials did he face in his life? Rudolf had many titles, for instance, he was an anthropologist, biologist, pathologist, physician, editor, writer, prehistorian, and politician, but what is he largely known for? This essay will go to his family, childhood, what led him to become the man he was, and the work that he accomplished.
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The Life of Rudolf Virchow
Rudolf Ludwig Carl Virchow was born October 13, 1821, in Schievelbein, Pomerania, Prussia which is now known as Swidwin, Poland. The Virchow family was not of noble blood, in fact, his parents Carl Christian Siegfried Virchow and Johanna Maria Hesse were simple farmers. His father Carl was the town treasurer of Schievelbein. Johanna and Carl were nature lovers and wanted to pass their love onto their only child Rudolf. You can picture these two parents taking their son on nature trips to watch the birds and hG12 G13 aving many fun adventures together. These trips are the biggest reason as to why Rudolf later developed a strong interest in natural science.
Even at a young age, Rudolf’s parents could see that they had a bright child who was extraordinarily gifted intellectually. Because they could not ignore this gift and their love for their only child, Carl and Johanna used what money they had to pay for extra lessons to help Rudolf push forward academically. After Rudolf graduated from his elementary school in his hometown of Schievelbein, he was able to advance to a gymnasium school in the city Köslin, which is known as Koszalain in Poland today. This city was 64 km from his hometown.
The German gymnasium schools provide the most advanced secondary education where there is a strong priority for academic learning. These schools offer the most academically promising children a quality education without their parents having to go into debt to provide thG14 G15 em a qualityG16 education. The students of the 19th century had the requirement to study at least two foreign languages in their curriculum and were given the opportunity to be able to study subjects like; mathematics, German, geography, music, arts, physical education, history, religion, and civics. Rudolf, having a brilliant mind, was always able to be at the top of his classes. He also had a very strong passion for languages, as he was fluent in 7 different languages which were Greek, Latin, Dutch, English, French, Hebrew, and Italian which he taught himself G17 in his spare time throughout high school and medical school. Rudolf graduated the Köslin gymnasium school in the year 1829 at the young age of 17. G18
Originally Rudolf strived to become a pastor but because he didn’t have enough confidence in his voice to be a strong preacher he instead chose to pursue the study of medicine and with the help of a special military scholarship from the Prussian Military Academy, which gave him the right set of circumstances to study medicine to develop a career as an army physician, he was able to attend and study at the Fredrich Wilhelm Institute of the University of Berlin which became the leading institute in research and teaching by 1840. It was during this time that Rudolf discovered his passion for pathology, the study of diseases. Rudolf completed his university course in 1843 at the age of 21G19 , 4 years after he graduated his gymnasium school. After he graduated he became a subordinate physician to his doctoral advisor Johannes Peter Muller. Shortly after he joined an internship at the Charite Hospital in Berlin. At this Hospital, in 1844 Rudolf was appointed the medical assistant to the pathologist Robert Froriep. Froriep was someone who taught Rudolf microscopy technical field of using microscopes for his interest in pathology.G20 G21 G22
Rudolf Virchow is credited with many different discoveries, but he is mostly known for his cell theory which was built on the work of Theodor Schwan. When first presented with the work of Robert Remask who showed that the origin of cells was the division of pre-existing cells. Virchow did not agree with the evidence because he believed that only certain types of cells were capable of cell division. Although he didn’t believe it at first, the evidence stayed in Virchow’s mind and he started to wonder in Remask’s findings were correct. In 1855, Virchow went ahead and published Remask’s work as his own when he thought Remask’s findings might have been right. This caused a dispute between the two scientists. In this publication, Virchow enclosed in a statement which when we translate into English “all cells come from cells” although this statement wasn’t invented by Virchow he did popularize it This statement rejected the idea of spontaneous regeneration which meant organizing could appear from nonliving matter.
In 1945 Virchow published his first scientific paper, that he wrote himself and is based on his own work, which has the earliest known pathological descriptions of cancer now known as leukemia, which means that he was the first person to recognize leukemia. He did this while carrying out one of the first methodical autopsies which involve G23 microscopic examination of tissue. He also published autopsy protocols because of the lack of standardization of autopsy procedures.G24 G25 G26
Virchow started teaching pathological anatomy at the University of Berlin in the year 1847. It was during this time that he and his colleague Benno Reinhardt inaugurated the Archiv for pathologische Anatomie and Physiologie and for Klinische Medizin Archive for Pathological Anatomy and Physiology and clinical medicine which would only publish papers that met meticulous scientific standards. Even in modern times, Virchow and Reinhardt’s journal is still one of the leading medical journals. Although it is now known as Virchow’s Archiv, Benno Reinhardt was the co-editor until his death at the age of 32 from tuberculosis of the lung. Virchow became the sole editor until his own death on September 5, 1902, in Berlin, Germany at the age of 80G27 .
Although I won’t go into this area of this Virchow was also a politician and involved himself in the March revolution of 1848 which caused his dismissal from the Charite Hospital the following year. In 1849 Virchow accepted the first chair of Pathological Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Wurzburg. Though he returned to Charite 5five years later as the head of the newly built Institute for Pathology while at the same time becoming the very first Chair of Pathology Anatomy and Physiology at Berlin University.
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Virchow was a monumental writer who wrote over 2000 scientific papers and manuscripts. In 1858 he published his most famous work in his field of Cellular Pathology. This important work is considered as the foundation of modern medical science. Virchow was the first to discover the link between infectious diseases in humans and animals for which he invented the term “zoonoses”. He also invented many different scientific terms such as “spina bifida” and “osteoid”. Like many scientists who went popular beliefs about their life. Virchow opposed the practice of humourism which is an ancient medical belief that imbalanced body fluids were the cause of diseases.
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In 1861, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1873, he was elected to the Prussian Academy of Science and declined the offer of ennoblement. In the year 1892, Virchow won the Copley medal which is a scientific award given by the royal society for outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science. Other scientists who have received this medal are Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Stephan Hawking.
Virchow married Ferdinande Rosalie Mayer on August 24, 1850, in Berlin. Together they had three sons and three daughtersG40 some of whom followed their father’s footsteps in going into the field of science. On January 4, 1902, Virchow broke his thigh bone which caused his health to progressively deteriorate and eight months G41 later September 5, 1902, he sadly passed away from heart failure, he was a young 8G42 0.
Some of the autopsy protocols that were published by Rudolf Virchow are still being practiced today, such as carrying out a complete surgery on all body parts with the organs being dissected one by one which is the standard protocol in today’s autopsies. G43 This shows us that Virchow’s contribution to the medical and scientific fields benefited the modern-day scientist in their work. Rudolf Virchow had an amazing talent with science and was an extraordinary medical scientist with a brilliant mind. The work he performed in his medical field will always be remembered as the beginning of a better understanding and the foundation of the modern medical understandings we have todayG44 hence, the proper name for him the “father of pathology”. G45 G46