Rudolph Virchow

Rudolph Virchow

Zachodniopomorskie, Poland
Death 5 Sep 1902 (aged 80)
Berlin, Germany
Burial Schoneberg, Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany
Plot H-s-12
Memorial ID 23351100 · View Source
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Medical Pioneer, Physician. He received notoriety as a German physician in the 19th century, who excelled in clinical aspects of medicine as well as the political. He is known as “the father of modern pathology,” the founder of Socialized Medicine, and the “Pope of medicine.” With the interest today in “CSI” and forensic medicine, he was the first to developed a systematic method of an autopsy. After excelling in local school especially in languages, he studied to become a clergy, but his voice was too weak to preach. Years later, he proclaimed that he had become an agnostic Protestant. At this point, he changed his career to medicine. He studied medicine in Berlin at Friedrich-Wilhelms Institute. This followed with a position and eventually the director of the dissections at Charite at the University of Berlin , which was one of the largest teaching hospitals in Europe. After studying a typhus epidemic in 1847, he started a public health system in Germany and paved his way to political aspects of medicine. He was expelled from his position at Charite for his part in the German Revolution of 1848. He obtained a position as first Chairman of the Pathological Anatomy at the University of Wuzburg in 1849. After five years, Charite reinstated him to its new Institute of Pathology. Years later, the campus of Charite was named in his honor. In 1849, he started the newspaper, “Medical Reforms” and was elected to the Prussian House of Representatives in an attempt for these reforms. He published more than 2,000 medical articles on the subjects ranging from a single cell to the entire human anatomy. He was the founder of several medical journals. He was published by the German Anthropological Association and Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory; both societies were founded by him. In his writings, he was the first to describe and name diseases such spinal bifida, degeneration, cancers such as leukemia and chorodoma, orchronosis, embolism, thrombosis, and more. Parts of human anatomy carry his name in honor of his research: Virchow's node which is near the clavicle bone; Virchow-Robin Spaces, which are located in the brain; Virchow-Seckel Sydrome, which deals with dwarfism; and Virchow's Triad, which deals with the formation of thrombi. Although he understood the single cell, he did not believe in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. In 1865 he developed an interest in anthropology after discovering a pile of ancient dwellings in northern Germany. This led to an anthropological newsletter, founding of a society, excavations near his hometown, and travels to Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Egypt, Nubia and other places. After testing the hair, skin, and eye color of six millions Jewish and Aryan students, with findings being published in 1886, he concluded that there could not be a pure Jewish or German race, which was a blow to anti-Semitic German thinking. Although Louis Pasteur had discovered “germs,” Virchow did not believe this to be a fact. In 1892 he received the British Royal Society's Copley Medal. He was a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and was elected to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Even with his accomplishments he declined being known as “von Virchow.” The Rudolph-Virchow-Krankenhaus Hospital north of Berlin is named in his honor. He married and had several children. On January 4, 1902 he fractured his femur jumping off a moving street car. The fracture never healed, thus he became bedridden, his health declined, and died eight months later from the complication of heart failure. A statue of him was erected in 1910 in Berlin.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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Gravesite Details Physician, polititian, archaeologist, anthropologist. Honorary Citizen of Berlin. The Rudolph-Virchow-Krankenhaus (Hospital) is named after him.



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Frank K.
  • Added: 10 Dec 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 23351100
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rudolph Virchow (13 Oct 1821–5 Sep 1902), Find a Grave Memorial no. 23351100, citing Alter Sankt-Matthäus-Kirchhof, Schoneberg, Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany ; Maintained by Find A Grave .