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Johann Otto Leonhard Heubner

Born  1843
Died  1926

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German paediatrician, born January 21, 1843, Mühltroff im sächsischen Vogtland; died October 17, 1926.

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.


  • Beiträge zur internen Kriegsmedizin. Leipzig, 1871.
  • Gehirn- und Rückenmarksyphilis.
    In: Hugo Wilhelm von Ziemssen (1829-1902), et al: Handbuch der speciellen Pathologie und Therapie. Leipzig, 1873.
  • Dysenterie.
    In: Hugo Wilhelm von Ziemssen (1829-1902), et al: Handbuch der speciellen Pathologie und Therapie. Leipzig, 1873.
  • Die luetischen Erkrankung der Hirnarterien. Leipzig, 1874.
  • Die experimentelle Diphterie. Preisschrift; Leipzig, 1883.
  • Hirnhautentzündungen.
    In Albert Eulenburg (1840-1917): Real-Encyclopädie der gesammten Heilkunde. Vienna, 1886
  • Ueber die Scharlachdiphterie und deren Behandlung. [Volkmann’s] Sammlung klinischer Vorträge, Leipzig, 1888, no. 322. Einzelausgabe, 22 pages.
  • Die Behandlung der Verdauungsstörungen im Säglingsalter.
    In Franz Penzoldt and Roderich Stintzing: Handbuch der gesamten Therapie. Jena, 1894.
  • Behandlung der Diphterie mit dem Behringschen Heilserum. Leipzig, 1895.
  • Die Syphilis im Kindesalter.
    In Carl Gerhardt’s Handbuch der Kinderkrankheiten. Tübingen, H. Laupp, 1896.
  • Beobachtungen und Versuche über den Meningokokkus intracellularis (Weichselbaum-Jaeger).
    Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift, 1896, 22: 423.
    Jahrbuch für Kinderheilkunde und physische Erziehung, Berlin, 1896, 43: 1-22.
    Heubner was the first to isolate meningococci from the cerebrospinal fluid of living beings.
  • Ueber da Verhalten des Darmepithels bei Darmkrankheiten der Säuglinge, insbesondere bei Cholera infantum.
    Zeitschrift für klinische Merdicin, Berlin. 1896, 29: 1-24.
  • Säuglingsernährung und Säuglingsspitäler. Berlin, 1897.
  • Chronische Nephritis und Albuminurie im Kindesalter.
    Berlin, 1897.
  • Über Gedeihen und Schwinden im Säuglingsalter.
    Berlin, 1898.
  • Lehrbuch der Kinderheilkunde.
    2 volumes. Leipzig, 1903-1906; 3rd edition, 1911.
  • Reden und Abhandlung aus dem Gebiete der Kinderheilkunde. Berlin, 1912.
  • Lehrbuch der Kinderheilkunde.
    2 volumes. Leipzig, J. A. Barth, 1903-1906.
  • Otto Heubners Lebenschronik.
    Published by his son, Wolfgang Heubner, Berlin, 1927.
We thank Rudolf Kleinert, Bad Reichenhall, Germany, for information submitted.

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