Johann Otto Leonhard Heubner
Biography of Johann Otto Leonhard Heubner
Johann Otto Leonhard Heubner was born in Mühltroff im sächsischen Vogtland. He was a student of Karl Reinhold August Wunderlich (1815-1877), to whom he was assistant at the clinic for several years in Leipzig even before he obtained his doctorate in 1867. After graduation he continued his studies in Vienna, and was habilitated for internal medicine at Leipzig in the autumn of 1868. He became professor extraordinary at the University of Leipzig in 1873, and in 1876 was made director of the district policlinic, a position he held until 1891. From this time Heubner turned his attention to paediatrics, and began investigating children's diseases in order to publish his findings, particularly on important infectious diseases of childhood. He built a children's ambulatory connected to the policlinic, and later a private children's hospital
In 1887 he turned down an invitation from the German university of Prague, and instead was made honorary professor with the assignment of establishing a children’s hospital as well as a children’s clinic in Leipzig. In 1891, when his job was completed, he was appointed to the newly erected chair of paediatrics, while also being director of the children’s hospital in Leipzig.
Three years later, in 1894, he went to Berlin as director of the university children’s clinic and policlinic at the Charité, succeeding Eduard Heinrich Henoch (1820-1910). Here, the same year, he became ordentlicher etatsmässiger professor of paediatrics at the Friedrich Wilhelm Universität. He remained here until he resigned it and became emeritus in 1916. He is said to have retained his Saxon accent and temperament throughout his life.
In 1898, with Max Rubner (1854-1932), he made the initial investigation on food requirements for normal and ill-nourished children which formed the foundation of later investigations in this area. He warned against too prolonged sterilisation of milk and whilst in Leipzig recognised Behring's discovery of diphteria antitoxin and was one of the first to use it in treatment. By means of lumbal puncture, in 1896 he succeeded in discovering the agent of cerebral meningitis, as he isolated meningococci from the cerebrospinal fluid.