- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Willy Burgdorfer


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Swiss zoologist, born in Basel

Biography of Willy Burgdorfer

Willy Burgdorfer was born in Basel, the son of Karl Burgdorfer, a corporal in the police, Criminal Investigation Department, and his wife, Elsa, née Hafner. He attended primary school in Kleinhünigen and in 1936 entered the Realgymnasium Basel, graduating in 1944. In spring that year he began his studies at the Faculty of Philosphy and Natural Sciences at the Iniversity of Basel. From June 1949 to June 1950 he was a scientific collaborator at the Bibliothek des Schweizerischen Tropeninstitutes in Basel. He received his PhD from the University of Basel in 1952, and later received honorary MD degrees from the University of Bern and University of Marseille. He is elected to the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences.

Willy Burgdorfer is an international leader in researching interactions between animal and human disease agents and their transmission by blood-feeding arthropods, especially ticks. a medical. When he discovered "his" spirochete in 1982, Burgdorfer was an entomologist with the National Institutes of Health, Hamilton Montana.

He has received numerous awards including the prestigious Koch Award, the Bristol Award, the Schaudinn-Hoffman Plaque, and the Walter Reed Gold Medal. He is coeditor of the book Aspects of Lyme Borreliosis and has published over 220 papers and edited numerous books.

Burgdorfer retired in 1986 after heading rickettsial diseases research at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Division of National Institutes of Health, and has remained active as scientist emeritus.

Willy Burgdorfer has cochaired several LDF International Scientific Conferences and is active on the LDF's Scientific /Medical Advisory Committee. He serves as Deputy Editor of the LDF's peer-reviewed Journal of Spirochetal and Tick-borne Diseases.

We thank Patrick Jucker-Kupper for information submitted.


  • Analyse des Infektionsverlaufes bei Ornithodorus moubata und der natürlichen Übertragung von Spirochaeta duttoni.
    Basel : Verlag für Recht und Gesellschaft, 1951.
    (Separatabdruck aus Acta Tropica, Basel, Bd. VIII, Heft 3, 1951.
    Doctoral thesis. Lead: Prof. R. Geigy.

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