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Adolph Wilhelm Otto

Born  1786
Died  1845

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German anatomist and pathologist, born August 3, 1786, Greifswald; died January 14, 1845, Breslau.

Biography of Adolph Wilhelm Otto

Adolph Wilhelm Otto was the son of Bernhard Christian Otto (1745-1835), professor of medicine at Frankfurt an der Oder. He studied medicine at Frankfurt an der Oder and Greifswald, obtaining his doctorate at the latter university in 1808. The following year he passed the Ärztliche und Physikatsprüfung, and became prosector and secondary physician at the medical clinic headed by Karl August Wilhelm Berends (1759-1826) at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder. In 1811 he was habilitated as Privatdozent, on which occasion he published pro venia legendi Monstrorum sex humanorum . . . and immediately was appointed professor extraordinary.

After undertaking an extended scientific journey through Germany, the Netherlands, and France, where he concerned himself with comparative anatomy under Georges Cuvier (1769-1832), in 1813 he was appointed professor ordinarius and director of the anatomical museum at the Frankfurt University, which was located at Breslau. Here, in 1821, he became Medicinalrath and member of the Medicinal Collegium für Schlesien, and in 1836 was appointed Geheimer Medicinalrath.

Otto pursued all of his tasks dutifully, not neglecting his favourite speciality in anatomy, teratology - a branch of the biological sciences dealing with the causes, development, description, and classification of congenital malformations in plants and animals and with the experimental production, in some instances, of these malformations.

Otto was a distinguished representative of pathological anatomy in his time, particularly of teratology. All, his works, however, are of a purely descriptive character. He neglected both physiological investigations as well as microscopic research

Despite this, he had a fertile influence on the study of anatomy at Breslau, and, on Otto’s initiative during the years 1834 and 1835, a new anatomical theatre was built. He also made large contributions of anatomical preparations to the museum.

After a sustained period of suffering, his troubles increased in 1844, with pains of the renal disease that ended his life on January 14, 1845.

Besides the works mentioned below, Otto contributed to various journals. He was a collaborator in the Erläuterungstafeln of anatomy published by Karl Gustav Carus (1779-1869).

We thank Victor Francone for information submitted.


  • Monstrorum trium cerebro atque cranio destitutotum anatomica et physiologica disquisito.
    Doctoral dissertation, Greifswald, 1808.
  • Monstrorum sex humanorum anat. Et physiol. Disquisito.
    Habilitationsschrift, Frankfurt an der Oder.
  • Handbuch der pathologischen Anatomie des Menschen und der Thiere. Breslau, 1814.
  • Seltene Beobachtungen zur Anatomie, Physiologie und Pathologie gehörig. 2 booklets, Breslau and Berlin, 1816, 1824.
  • Lehrbuch der pathologischen anatomie.
    Volume 1 (the only); Breslau, 1841,
  • Monstrorum sexcentorum descriptio anatomica.
    Vratsilavae, F. Girt, 1841.
    Brief but accurate descriptions of 600 human and animal specimens, with 30 outstanding plates.

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