- Virchow , Rudolf Carl
- (1821–1902) German pathologistThe son of a merchant from Schivelbein (now Świdwin in Poland), Virchow graduated in medicine from the Army Medical School, Berlin, in 1843. He then worked at the Charité Hospital in Berlin where he wrote a classic paper on one of the first known cases of leukemia. In 1849 he moved to Würzburg as professor of pathological anatomy. He returned to Berlin in 1856 as director of the university's Institute of Pathology, where he remained until his death.In 1858 Virchow published Die Cellular-pathologie (Cellular Pathology), in which he formulated two propositions of fundamental importance. The first, consciously echoing the words of William Harvey: “Omne vivum ex ovo” (All life is derived from an egg), declared “Omnis cellula e cellula” (Every cell is derived from a preexisting cell). Others, such as John Goodsir, had already advanced such ideas but Virchow differed in applying them to pathology, his second major thesis being that disease was a pathological cellular state. The cells are the ‘seat’ of disease, or, disease is simply the response of a cell to abnormal conditions. This by itself immediately generated the immense research program of collecting, examining, and classifying different types of cells and noting their variety and development, both normal and abnormal.Virchow consequently had little time for the emerging germ theory of disease, which later in the century would sweep all other theories out of the way. In fact after 1870 Virchow tended to pursue interests other than pure science. Dissatisfied not only with the new germ theory but also with the theory of evolution, which he tried to have banned from school curricula, Virchow seemed more interested in archeology and politics than science.Thus Virchow encouraged his friend Heinrich Schliemann in his determination to discover the site of Homer's Troy and actually worked on the dig at Hissarlik in 1879. In politics he was a member of the Reichstag from 1880 to 1893 and, as a leading liberal, was a bitter opponent of Bismarck who went so far as to challenge him to a duel in 1865.Virchow was also widely known for founding, in 1847, the journal Archiv für pathologische Anatomie (Archive of Pathological Anatomy), which he continued to edit for 50 years.
Scientists. Academic. 2011.