- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Erwin von Esmarch

Born  1855
Died  1915

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    German bacteriologist and hygienist, born March 12, 1855, Kiel; died February 4, 1915, Göttingen.

    Biography of Erwin von Esmarch

    Erwin von Esmarch was the son of the great surgeon Johannes Friedrich August von Esmarch (1823-1908). Erwin Esmarch was educated at Heidelberg, Kiel, and Strassburg, being conferred doctor of medicine in Strassburg in 1881. From 1882 to 1884 he was assistant at the Berlin eye clinic under Karl Ernst Theodor Schweigger (1830-1905). From 1885 to 1891 he worked with Robert Koch (1843-1910) and in 1890 was habilitated for hygiene in Berlin. He became extraordinarius in Königsberg in 1891 and in 1897 he was elevated to the chair. In 1899 he accepted a call to Göttingen, where he died in 1915.

    Esmarch mastered the entire field of hygiene, distinguishing himself particularly in his work on disinfection. He concerned himself extensively with household hygiene and was concerned about the often poor hygienic conditions in German schools.

    Of bacteriological works two things are named for him: his «Rollrörchen» as well as the method of quantitative demonstration of Bacterium coli in Water, the Göttingen procedure, developed by himself and his students. He also wrote a book an the influence of daylight on health.

    In 1883 he married Else Ravene. They had one daughter, Louise Henriette Amelie von Esmarch, born 1887.

    In 1887 Esmarch described Rhodospirillum rubrum.


    • Hygienisches Taschenbuch.
      Berlin, 1896. 5th edition published by Hans Reichenbach (born 1864), 1930.
    • Die Tageshelligkeiten in Göttingen im Jahre 1906.
      Zeitschrift für Hygiene und Infektionskrankheiten, 1908, 58: 14-25.
      [On the daylight in Göttingen in the year 1906]
      On the effect of sunlight on health. For this work Esmarch made an instrument "for the registration of sunlight". According to Esmarch there were only 1080 hours of sunlight in Göttingen in 1906, still better than the annual average for London, which was 1026 hours.
    We thank Rudolf Kleinert, Bad Reichenhall, Germany, for information submitted.

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