Robert Koch Biography


Birthday: December 11, 1843 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany

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

Quick Facts

German Celebrities Born In December

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

Died At Age: 66

Born Country: Germany

Bacteriologists German Men

Died on: May 27, 1910

place of death: Baden-Baden, Germany

More Facts

education: University of Göttingen

awards: Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

  • 1

    What is Robert Koch best known for?

    Robert Koch is best known for his pioneering work in the field of microbiology and his discovery of the causative agents of tuberculosis, cholera, and anthrax.
  • 2

    What is the Koch's postulates?

    Koch's postulates are a set of criteria used to establish a causal relationship between a microorganism and a disease. They include isolating the microorganism from diseased individuals, growing it in pure culture, inoculating it into a healthy host, and re-isolating the same microorganism from the host.
  • 3

    What impact did Robert Koch's discoveries have on medicine?

    Robert Koch's discoveries revolutionized the field of medicine by providing a scientific basis for understanding the causes of infectious diseases and developing methods for their prevention and treatment. His work laid the foundation for modern bacteriology and the germ theory of disease.
  • 4

    How did Robert Koch contribute to the field of public health?

    Robert Koch's contributions to public health include his research on infectious diseases, development of laboratory techniques for studying pathogens, and advocacy for improved sanitation and hygiene practices to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • 5

    What is the significance of Robert Koch's work in the history of medicine?

    Robert Koch's work is considered monumental in the history of medicine because it helped establish the germ theory of disease, advanced the understanding of infectious diseases, and set the standard for scientific methods in microbiology research.
Childhood & Early Life
On December 11, 1843, Hermann Koch and Mathilde Julie Henriette Biewand gave birth to a child named Robert, in Clausthal near Hannover in Germany. Robert’s father Hermann was an engineer in the mining industry and his mother looked after the family.
Koch showed extraordinary learning capabilities as a child and learnt to read on his own by way of newspapers by the time he was only 5 years old. He showed remarkable gifts in the sciences and mathematics in school. In the year 1862, Robert Koch graduated high school.
Koch attended the ‘University of Gottingen’ as a student of medicine and during his time at the university he came into contact with Jacob Henle who had propounded that the cause of many diseases are parasites. He graduated from University in 1866 with an MD degree and also achieved the highest grades.
Right after graduating in the year 1866, he travelled to Berlin for a period of 6 months to hone his skills in chemistry. The very next year he joined the ‘General Hospital’ in Hamburg as physician. It was 2 years after joining the General Hospital that Koch successfully passed the District Medical Officers’ Examination.
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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.
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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.
Facts About Robert Koch
Robert Koch was known to have a pet parrot that he kept in his laboratory, which he considered a companion during his long hours of research.
Koch was an avid traveler and had a great passion for exploring different cultures and traditions, which influenced his scientific perspectives.
Despite his rigorous work schedule, Koch was a skilled pianist and often found solace in playing music to unwind and relax.
Koch had a unique sense of humor and was known for his witty remarks and playful banter with colleagues and friends.
Koch had a deep appreciation for nature and would often take breaks from his research to go on long walks in the countryside, drawing inspiration from the natural world for his scientific discoveries.

See the events in life of Robert Koch in Chronological Order

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