- Ehrlich , Paul
- (1854–1915) German physician, bacteriologist, and chemistBorn in Strehlen (now Strzelin in Poland), Ehrlich studied medicine at the universities of Breslau, Strasbourg, and Freiburg, gaining a physician's degree at Breslau in 1878. For the next nine years he worked at the Charité Hospital, Berlin, on many topics including typhoid fever, tuberculosis, and pernicious anemia. He was awarded the title of professor by the Prussian Ministry of Education in 1884 for his impressive work in these fields. In 1887 he became a teacher at the University of Berlin but was not paid because of the antisemitic feeling at the time – Ehrlich would not renounce his Jewish upbringing. As a result of his laboratory work he contracted tuberculosis and was not restored to health until 1890, when he set up his own small research laboratory at Steglitz on the outskirts of Berlin.In 1890 Robert Koch announced the discovery of tuberculin and suggested its use in preventing and curing tuberculosis. He asked Ehrlich to work on it with him at the Moabit Hospital in Berlin. Ehrlich accepted and for six years studied TB and cholera. In 1896 he accepted the post of director of the new Institute for Serum Research and Serum Investigation at Steglitz and in 1899 moved to the Institute of Experimental Therapy in Frankfurt. Here he investigated African sleeping sickness and syphilis along with his other studies. In 1908 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for his work on immunity and serum therapy.Two years later he announced his most famous discovery, Salvarsan – a synthetic chemical that was effective against syphilis – and until the end of his life he worked on the problems associated with the treatment of patients using this compound of arsenic.Ehrlich is considered to be the founder of modern chemotherapy because he developed systematic scientific techniques to search for new synthetic chemicals that could specifically attack disease-causing microorganisms. Ehrlich sought for these ‘magic bullets’ by carefully altering the chemical structure of dye molecules that selectively stained the microorganisms observable in his microscope but did not stain cells in the host. He was persevering and optimistic – Salvarsan (compound number 606) was not ‘rediscovered’ until almost 1000 compounds had been synthesized and tried. He made and tested about 3000 compounds based on the structure of Salvarsan in an attempt to make a drug that was bacteriocidal to streptococci.
Scientists. Academic. 2011.