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Wilhelm Roser

Born  1817
Died  1888

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German surgeon, born March 26, 1817, Stuttgart; died December 16, 1888, Marburg.

Biography of Wilhelm Roser

Wilhelm Roser was medical privy counsellor and professor of surgery in Marburg. From 1834 he studied in Tübingen with Karl Reinhold August Wunderlich (1815-1877) and Wilhelm Griesinger (1817-1868), who became his close and lifelong friends. All three of them were politically engaged in a Burschenschaft, which evidently continued to exist in secrecy after such societies had been officially prohibited.

Roser graduated in medicine in 1938 and in 1839 obtained his medical doctorate with the dissertation "Die Humoralätiologie". He then went on education journeys to Würzburg, Halle, Vienna, and Paris, meeting several of the luminaries of the medical profession. In Vienna he made the acquaintance of Karl von Rokitansky, Austria's greatest pathologist of the nineteenth century, and the Bohemian clinician Josef Skoda (1805.1881), who is remembered for his work on auscultation and percussion. In Paris he was in contact with Joseph-François Malgaigne (1806-1865), Alfred Armand Louis Marie Velpeau (1795-1867), and Léon Jean Baptiste Cruveilhier (1791-1874).

In 1841 he returned to Tübingen. That year he was habilitated for surgery and, with his friends Griesinger and Wunderlich, established the journal Archiv für physiologische Heilkunde [Archives of physiological medicine]. Roser published a large number of articles in this journal, some of them opposing the natural philosophical and natural historical view of medicine.

In 1846 Roser laid down his private lectureship (Dozentur) and moved to Reutlingen, a town on the Echaz River in south-western Germany, in order to become Oberamts-Wundartzt. However, he soon moved on to Marburg as ordinarius of surgery, succeeding Eduard Zeis (1807-1868), who had moved to Dresden.

Also in Marburg Roser was medical privy counsellor and remained in the town until his death in 1888. At the beginning of this year he had to resign because of ailing health.

Wilhelm Roser is reckoned as one of the major nineteenth-century German surgeons.
While in Marburg he became interested in ophthalmology, commenced an eye clinic of his own and established a teaching chair for this discipline. He was highly active as a surgeon and ophthalmologist, and wrote more than 150 papers.

His son, Karl Roser (born 1856), became a surgeon in Wiesbaden.


  • Handbuch der anatomischen Chirurgie.
    Tübingen, 1844; 8th edition, 1884; French translation, Paris, 1870; English, London, 1873.
  • Allgemeine Chirurgie. Tübingen, 1845.
  • Chirurgisch-anatomisches Vademecum.
    1847; 9th edition, 1892.
  • Ueber die sogenannte Spezifität der Ophthalmien.
    Archiv für physiologische Heilkunde, 1847, p 101.
  • Die Lehre vom Hornhaut-Staphylom. Marburg, 1851.
  • Karl Roser:
    Wilhelm Roser. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Chirurgie.
    Wiesbaden 1892. The biography is by Rudolf Ulrich Krönlein (1847-1910).

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