Jean Georges Chrétien Fréderic Martin Lobstein

Born 1777
Died 1835

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German-born French surgeon and pathologist, born May 8, 1777, Giessen in Hessen; died March 7, 1835, France. German name: Johann Georg Christian Friedrich Martin Lobstein

Biography of Jean Georges Chrétien Fréderic Martin Lobstein

Johann Friedrich Georg Christian Martin Lobstein was the nephew of the anatomist and surgeon Johann Friedrich Lobstein the elder (1736-1784). His father was a university teacher and a minister of the Protestant church. The family returned to their home town of Strasbourg, Alsace in 1890 at the beginning of the French Revolution. This proved to be a tragic move as Lobstein senior was subsequently imprisoned for his sympathy with the Royalist cause and died nine months later. After the death of his father, Jean Fréderic Lobstein, at the age of 17 years, was left with the obligation of maintaining his widowed mother and his four younger brothers. At this time

Lobstein attended the University of Strasbourg, studying philosophy, but after two years entered the study of medicine at the École spéciale de médecine. Already in 1793, few days after his father had been taken prisoner, he had to join the ambulances of the Rhine army as élève en chirurgie. From 1796 to 1799 he worked as Officier de santé.

After nine years of active service Lobstein left the army and returned to Strasbourg where he graduated as doctor of medicine in 1803 with a thesis entitled On the nutrition of the fetus. He was not allowed to habilitate as lecturer, but instead, in 1804, became Chef de travaux anatomiques (prosector) as well as assistant to the Médecin-accoucheur en chef at the Citizen’s hospitals. In 1805 he himself received this dignity, a position in which he was also professor at the lower Rhine school of midwifery. He held both these positions uninterruptedly for 30 years.

In 1813 Lobstein, who believed firmly in the value of anatomico-pathological specimens in the teaching of medicine, founded a pathological museum. This initiative was well received and attracted numerous academic visitors. It also brought credit to Lobstein, who in 1814 unsuccessfully applied for the vacated position of professor of forensic medicine. However, in 1819, supported by baron Georges-Léopold-Chrétien-Frédéric-Dagobert Cuvier (1769-1832), he obtained the professorship of pathological anatomy, the first independent chair of this discipline ever to be created.

Lobstein introduced chemical pathology into his new department and promoted the use of autopsy as a teaching medium. He also devoted himself to the development of his museum, which eventually contained more than 3,000 specimens. In 1824 he was also entrusted the then vacated chair of internal medicine and clinics, continuing in both fields for the remainder of his career.

Outside his medical career, Lobstein was active in the study of history and archaeology. He had a keen interest in the excavation of artifacts, which he preserved in his personal museum. He was also a noted numismatist and amassed an extensive high regard by his colleagues. His death from an urinary infection in 1835 was marked by numerous eulogies.

In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian war, Strasbourg was annexed by the German Empire as part of Alsace-Lorraine, and the spelling of the name changes to Strassburg. The medical faculty then became part of the Kaiser Wilhelm Spital. A new institute of pathology was established, with the German pathologist Friedrich Daniel von Recklinghausen (1833-1910) as director, and Lobstein's museum specimens were displaced or dispersed.

Historically, Alsace-Lorraine is the German area Elsass-Lothringen, which was at the centre of Charlemagne's Frankish empire in the 9th century and later became part of the Germanies of the Holy Roman Empire. It was ceded to France as a part of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. It was ceded back to France after World War I (and again in 1945) and the name of the hospital was changed to that of "Louis Pasteur". Linguistically, the German dialect known as Alsatian remains the lingua franca of the region, and both French and German are taught in the schools. A tablet inscribed in Lobstein's memory remains, and his marble bust, created in 1855 by Philip Gross (1801-1876), retains pride of place in an exhibit in the council room of the Faculty of Medicine.

Lobstein's main oeuvre was the unfinished Traité d’anatomie pathologique, a four-volume work on pathological anatomy, based upon his vast personal experience. In this treatise he introduced the term "arteriosclerosis". He discovered the accessory ganglion of the great splanchnic nerve above the diaphragm. Except for his Nachricht über eine Privat-Enbindungsanstalt (1802) and his Handbuch der Hebammenkunst, all of Lobstein's written works were first published in French.

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