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Ernst Adolf Gustav Gottfried von Strümpell

Born 1853
Died 1925

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German neurologist, born June 29, 1853, Estate Neu-Autz in Kurland; died 1925.

Biography of Ernst Adolf Gustav Gottfried von Strümpell

Ernst Adolf Gustav Gottfried von Strümpell was born on the estate Neu Autz in Kurland, a Baltic province of Russia, and spent his youth in Dorpat, Estonia, where his father, Ludwig Strümpell, a born Braunschweiger, was university professor of philosophy.

Strümpell first studied philosophy for one term at the German university in Prague, but in 1870 changed to medicine. After his father received a chair in Leipzig, he moved there with his family in 1872. His teachers there were Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich (1815-1877), Karl Thiersch (1822-1895), Carl Benno Credé (1847-1929) and Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig (1816-1895), the inventor of the kymograph drum. He completed his studies as doctor of medicine in 1875. The following year he was appointed an assistant at the Leipzig medical clinic, first working under C. A. Wunderlich in his clinic, then under Ernst Leberecht Wagner (1829-1888), until 1882, and in this period was also influenced by Julius Friedrich Cohnheim (1839-1884). Strümpell was habilitated as Privatdozent for internal medicine in 1878, in 1883 becoming ausserordentlicher Professor and succeeded Wilhelm Heinrich Erb (1840-1921) as director of the polyclinic in Leipzig.

Strümpell’s first lectures were on infectious disease - first attended by one student - who left when the lecturer entered the classroom. When Wilhelm Erb moved to Heidelberg in 1884 Strümpell followed suit and became director of the medical clinic, with Paul Julius Möbius (1853-1907) as his assistant.

In 1886 Strümpell left Leipzig to become professor of medicine and director of the medical clinic in Erlangen, succeeding Wilhelm Olivier Leube (1842-1922). He remained in Erlangen until 1903, when he moved to the University of Breslau. In 1909 he went on to Vienna, before he in 1910 gained his final appointment at Leipzig, replacing the internist Heinrich Curschmann (1846-1910). He spent the remains of his life in Leipzig. Adolf Gustav Gottfried Strümpell was knighted in 1893, becoming Adolf Gustav Gottfried von Strümpell

Based upon his own experience, Strümpell in 1883/1884 published what was to become the definitive textbook on internal medicine in Germany: Lehrbuch der speziellen Pathologie und Therapie der inneren Krankheiten. Strümpell made important contributions to a broad spectre of medical themes. His works in neuropathology are of such fundamental importance that he must be ranked among the founders of neurology as a clinical educational discipline in Germany. His research concerned, among many things, tabes dorsalis, systemic diseases of the spinal cord, infantile paralysis, acromegalia, and progressive muscular atrophy. Most of his articles were published in Zeitschrift für Nervenheilkunde, a journal published by himself with Wilhelm Erb, Friedrich Schultze (1848-1934), and Ludwig Lichtheim (1845-1928) from 1891, and of which he himself was editor.

Adolf von Strümpell was an optimistic and kind person devoted to his patients and a liberal in life, whilst respecting tradition. Already as a youth he had distinguished himself as a violinist, and as a grown man his love of music gave him personal contact with many of the period’s outstanding artists.

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