Autobiographical Outline1 of Rudolf Virchow

Date: Between June & September 1859

Page 1 of 3

Pages: 1  2  3  Virchow Home


                                 Most Important Works

First studies on inflammation of vessels, particulary phlebitis. Start-

     ed at a time when Cruveilhier2 had just stated: La

      phlebite domine toute la pathologie.3 First a great number of

     preparatory studies on fibrin, leukocytes, meta-

     morphosis of blood, published separately.

     Doctrines of leukemia, embolism, thrombosis, ichorrhemia4.

     New researches on pathological pigments, stemming from

     blood (discovery of hematoidin). Use of hem-

     in crystals in forensic blood diagnosis. Furthermore, studies on

     endocarditis & endoarteritis.

Just finished a large series of studies on genesis

     of tumors: carcinoma, cholestatoma, neuroma,

     tubercle, colloid tumor of ovary, enchondroma, myosarcoma etc.

     Published in monographs.

New theory on the structure of connective tissue in connection with

     more accurate description of cartilage, bone & mucous tis-

     sue. More accurate history of bone growth & rickets.

     Special study of skull formation & deformation, es-

     pecially in connection with cretinism & mental di-


Discovery of corpora amylecea and amyloid degeneration.

History of inflammation: parenchymatous inflammation (keratitis,

     chondritis, osteitis, Bright's disease, etc.) Fibrin formation

     as a result of tissue activity.

New theory of irritability of different tissues: Cellular path-

     ology. Omnis cellula a cellula: continuous development &

     transformation of tissues.

Dr. Thor Jager's transcription of this page.

1.   This is the first page of the original manuscript, which consists of this narrative introduction entitled “Wichtigste Arbeiten” followed by the chronological outline.  Ackerknecht in his biography of Virchow called the manuscript a curriculum vitae.  The form of the manuscript however is more akin to a simple autobiographical piece of work.  Virchow used one single sheet of 81/2” by 11” paper that was folded in half with the “Most Important Works” as the front cover and the inside right half of the page and the reverse of that right half of the page containing the chronological outline.  The English translation of this autobiographical manuscript was originally published by Erwin Ackerknecht in his biography of Virchow in 1953.  The translation that appears here is taken from Ackerknecht’s rendering with a few minor alterations.  Ackerknecht translated the title “Wichtigste Arbeiten” to “Most Important Research”.  I have changed this translation of the title to “Most Important Works”.  The other alteration is a matter of form concerning the usage of the ampersand instead of the word “and”.  The reason for the usage of this form is to more closely reflect Virchow’s usage of a short-hand symbol for the conjunction of “and”.  For the most part, the underlined words in the original manuscript are italicized in the translation with only a couple exceptions that are noted.  Back

2.  Jean Cruveilhier (1791-1874) was a French physician, anatomist, pathologist and experimenter.  He was not known for his abilities as a clinician or teacher, but gained notoriety from the illustrations contained in his Anatomie pathologique du corps humain (1828-1842) and the Traité d’anatomie pathologique générale (1849-1864).  Cruveilhier was professor of anatomy in Paris in 1825 and later in 1836 became the first chair of pathological anatomy.  His statement asserting that “phlebitis dominates all of pathology”, was the focal point of Virchow’s early research on blood chemistry and blood pathology that resulted in Virchow’s in the development of such concepts as embolism and thrombosis. Back

  Dictionary of Scientific Biography, s.v. “Cruveilhier, Jean.”

3.  "Phlebitis dominates all of pathology."  This is not underlined in the original manuscript by Virchow.  Back

4.  “Ichorremia” was a new term coined by Virchow during his early studies (1844-1856) on blood chemistry and blood pathology to describe a chemical disturbance or toxic contamination of the blood.  The term was used for a few years to describe what would be comparable to our modern day septicemia.  Ichorremia was mentioned in a few texts of the late 1800’s before falling out of favor.  From 1854-67 the term was defined as “poisoning of the blood from the absorption of sanious matter” in A Dictionary of Medical Terminology, Dental Surgery, and the Collateral Sciences authored by Chapin Aaron Harris. The term also appears simply as “putrid infection” in the 1874 Manual of Pathological Anatomy by Charles M. H. Jones.  Finally, ichorremia is acknowledged as being related to septicemia with the statement that “many make a distinction between septicemia and ichorremia” in Wagner’s General Pathology of 1876.   Back

  A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 1888, s.v. “ichorremia.”;  The Oxford English Dictionary, second ed., s.v. “ichorremia.”;  Erwin H. Ackerknecht,  Rudolph Virchow: Doctor, Statesman, Anthropologist  (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1953).

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Revised: April 13, 2000