Robert Koch Biography

Robert Koch was a famous German microbiologist who identified the cause of various deadly diseases such as anthrax and cholera. To know more about his childhood, career, profile and timeline read on.

Quick Facts

Birthday: December 11, 1843

Nationality: German

Famous: Bacteriologists Microbiologists

Died At Age: 66

Sun Sign: Sagittarius

Also Known As: Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch, Dr. Robert Koch

Born in: Clausthal-Zellerfeld

Famous as: Physician

Died on: May 27, 1910

place of death: Baden-Baden

More Facts

education: University of Göttingen

awards: Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

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Germany has produced plenty of path breaking scientific minds for centuries but one man who is counted among the greatest ever produced by the country is Robert Heinrich Herman Koch. Koch laid the foundation for the study of bacteriology in the modern age and helped in explaining the causes and possible cures of different bacterial diseases. He was a researcher par excellence and was responsible for carrying out unprecedented studies into such life threatening diseases like anthrax and tuberculosis among others. This erudite scientist was also instrumental in creating modern laboratories that would help researchers in this field in the best possible way. Koch was not only a scientist with an incredibly gifted mind but he was also a visionary and the number of awards and medals that he won throughout his distinguished life is a proof of the sort of contribution he made to the world of medical science. He was associated with only one University throughout his illustrious academic career and spent his whole life in Germany although he travelled extensively for research. Last but not the least it is also important to mention that Koch was also the doctoral advisor to many renowned scientists. Read on to know more about the life and works of this accomplished scientist

Childhood & Early Life
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  • In the year 1870 Koch voluntarily enrolled in the Prussian Army in order contribute to the Franco-Prussian War and for 8 years he served as the District Medical Officer for the Army at Wollstein.
  • During his time working as the District Medical Officer he started with his experiments on how bacteria can cause anthrax and even though he used an extremely crude laboratory for his studies; he was successful. In the year 1876, the paper was published by the ‘Botanical Journal’ and his stellar work was recognised by the scientific community.
  • Robert Koch was finally discharged from the army in 1880 and was immediately appointed as a professor at the ‘University of Berlin’; where he finally got to work in a specialised laboratory after initially having to make do with an inadequate one.
  • In the year 1882, Koch successfully discovered the bacteria that caused the dreaded disease of tuberculosis and in fact he also demonstrated how the bacteria can be grown artificially. In the same year he published a paper with detailed findings of his research.
  • The eminent scientist had become an authority on bacterial diseases, including cholera, by the year 1883 and so when a cholera epidemic broke out in Egypt, he was sent to the African nation as the leader of the ‘German Cholera Commission’.
  • The ‘Institute of Hygiene’ at the ‘University of Berlin’ made him the Director and also gave him the designation of a professor in the year 1885. He worked as the director of the particular institution for 5 years and made remarkable progress in his field.
  • Koch was made the honorary Director and Professor at the ‘Institute of Infectious Diseases’ located in Berlin in the year 1891. It has during this time he made his important observations on the tuberculosis virus; however he would go on to contradict some of his views on bacteria in a conference in London ten years later.
  • Towards the end of his career he travelled to Africa and India in order to study the problems facing the populations as far as infectious diseases were concerned. Koch also successfully made vital observations on several diseases that used to be contracted by cattle in those regions.
Major Works
  • Robert Koch is one of the most important figures in the history of the world due to his staggering work in the field of bacteriology. His contributions towards finding the causes of life threatening diseases like anthrax, cholera and tuberculosis marks the highlight of his illustrious career.
Awards & Achievements
  • In the year 1897, the eminent scientist was made a Fellow of the ‘Royal Society of London’, which is regarded as one of the most prestigious scientific societies in the world.
  • In 1905, the eminent bacteriologist was honoured with the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Robert Koch got married to Emma Fratz in the year 1866 at the age of 23. The couple had a daughter named Gertrud but the marriage culminated in a divorce.
  • After seoarating from Emma in 1893, Koch exchanged the nuptial vows with the actress Hedwig Freiberg.
  • At the age of only 66, this erudite scientist passed away on May 27, 1910, in Baden-Baden, of a heart ailment.

See the events in life of Robert Koch in Chronological Order

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Robert Koch

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