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Ehrlich, Paul (1854–1915)

  • In: Encyclopedia of Epidemiology
  • Edited by: Sarah Boslaugh
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Health Research Methods , Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Paul Ehrlich was immensely important in the fields of chemistry, immunology, and histology. Perhaps his greatest contribution to public health was his discovery of Salvarsan, also known as 606, the first organic antisyphilitic. Martha Marquardt, his secretary for 13 years, describes his life as ‘one long fight for the promotion of medical science in the service of mankind’ (Marquardt, 1951, p. vi).

Born on March 14, 1854, in Strehlen, Germany, to prosperous innkeepers Ismar and Rosa, Ehrlich's fascination with science was fostered from an early age by his grandfather, a natural scientist, and his cousin, Karl Weigert, a bacteriologist. Ehrlich excelled in Latin and the sciences throughout school, earning a Doctor of Medicine degree at Leipzig in 1878.

A fervent researcher, nearly all Ehrlich's waking hours ...

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