Paul Ehrlich ( German: [ˈpʰaʊ̯l ˈeːɐ̯lɪç] ( listen); 14 March 1854 – 20 August 1915) was a Nobel Prize -winning German physician and scientist who worked in the fields of hematology, immunology, and antimicrobial chemotherapy. Among his foremost achievements were finding a cure for syphilis in 1909 and inventing the precursor ...
Paul Ehrlich Biographical P aul Ehrlich was born on March 14, 1854 at Strehlen, in Upper Silesia*, Germany.He was the son of Ismar Ehrlich and his wife Rosa Weigert, whose nephew was the great bacteriologist Karl Weigert.
Paul Ralph Ehrlich (born May 29, 1932) is an American biologist, best known for his warnings about the consequences of population growth and limited resources. He is the Bing Professor Emeritus of Population Studies of the Department of Biology of Stanford University and President of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology.
- Early Work with Dyes
- Antitoxins from Blood Sera
- A Nobel Prize and Magic Bullets
Ehrlich was born near Breslau—then in Germany, but now known as Wrocław, Poland. He studied to become a medical doctor at the university there and in Strasbourg, Freiburg im Breisgau, and Leipzig. In Breslau he worked in the laboratory of his cousin Carl Weigert, a pathologist who pioneered the use of aniline dyes as biological stains. Ehrlich became interested in the selectivity of dyes for specific organs, tissues, and cells, and he continued his investigations at the Charité Hospital in Berlin. After he showed that dyes react specifically with various components of blood cells and the cells of other tissues, he began to test the dyes for therapeutic properties to determine whether they could kill off disease-causing microbes. He met with promising results using methylene blue to kill the malaria parasite.
After a bout with tuberculosis and his subsequent cure with tuberculin therapy, developed by fellow German Robert Koch, Ehrlich focused his attention on bacterial toxins and antitoxins. At first he worked in a small private laboratory, but then he was invited to work at Koch’s Institute for Infectious Diseases in Berlin. The post-Pasteurera was an exciting time to be looking for cures and preventives, and Koch’s Institute was one of the best places to be. Among Ehrlich’s new colleagues were Emil von Behring and Shibasaburo Kitasato, who had recently developed “serum therapies” for diphtheria and tetanus. Whereas Louis Pasteur’s vaccines and Koch’s tuberculin were made from weakened bacteria, these new serum therapies used blood serum, or cell-free blood liquid, extracted from the blood of naturally or artificially immunized animals to induce immunity. Von Behring and Kitasato evolved the concept of “antitoxin” to explain the immunizing properties of sera. One of Ehrlich’s jobs at th...
In 1908 Ehrlich shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Élie Metchnikoff for their separate paths to an understanding of the immune response: Ehrlich presented a chemical theory to explain the formation of antitoxins, or antibodies, to fight the toxins released by the bacteria, while Metchnikoff studied the role of white blood corpuscles (phagocytes) in destroying bacteria themselves. By that time most scientists agreed that both explanations of the immune system were necessary. Early in his career Ehrlich began to develop a chemical structure theory to explain the immune response. He saw toxins and antitoxins as chemical substances at a time when little was known about their exact nature. Up to that time, those scientists who were synthesizing therapeutic agents came at their tasks with few hypotheses about where and how these agents interacted with living systems. Ehrlich supposed that living cells have side chains—a shorter chain or group of atoms attached to a prin...
Serum therapy was for Ehrlich the ideal method of contending with infectious diseases. In those cases, however, in which effective sera could not be discovered, Ehrlich would turn to synthesizing new chemicals, informed by his theory that the effectiveness of a therapeutic agent depended on its side chains. These “chemotherapies” were to be the new magic bullets. In Frankfurt, Ehrlich turned from his work on serum therapy to chemotherapies and dyes. First targeting the protozoa that were known to be responsible for certain diseases, such as sleeping sickness, he and the Japanese bacteriologist Kiyoshi Shiga synthesized trypan red as a highly effective cure for that disease. In 1906 Georg-Speyer-Haus, a research institute for chemotherapy, was established with its own staff under Ehrlich’s direction. Soon this institute and the Hoechst and Cassella chemical companies reached an agreement that gave the companies the right to patent, manufacture, and market preparations discovered by E...
The researchers, now including an organic chemist, Alfred Bertheim, and a bacteriologist, Sahashiro Hata, broadened the targeted microorganisms to include spirochetes, which had recently been identified as the cause of syphilis. Beginning with an arsenic compound, atoxyl, in three years’ time and three hundred syntheses later—for that day an amazingly large number—they discovered Salvarsan (1909). Salvarsan was first tried on rabbits that had been infected with syphilis and then on patients with the dementia associated with the final stages of the disease. Astonishingly, several of these “terminal” patients recovered after treatment. More testing revealed that Salvarsan was actually more successful if administered during the early stages of the disease. Salvarsan and Neosalvarsan (1912) retained their role as the most effective drugs for treating syphilis until the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s. The information contained in this biography was last updated on December 5, 2017.
Aug 16, 2021 · Paul Ehrlich, German medical scientist known for his pioneering work in hematology, immunology, and chemotherapy and for his discovery of the first effective treatment for syphilis. He received jointly with Élie Metchnikoff the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1908. Ehrlich was born into a
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Paul R. Ehrlich, American biologist and educator who in 1990 shared Sweden’s Crafoord Prize with biologist E.O. Wilson. Though much of his research was done in the field of entomology, Ehrlich’s overriding concern became unchecked population growth. Learn more about his life and career.