Biography of Emil Zuckerkandl
Emil Zuckerkandl studied at the University of Vienna from 1867. He soon became one of the favourite pupils of the anatomist Joseph Hyrtl, of whom he said “he spoke like Cicero and wrote like Heine”. Hyrtl made him demonstrator, later assistant. On Hyrtl's recommendation he worked for a period of time as prosector in Amsterdam. In 1873 he returned to Vienna to become assistant at the pathological-anatomical chair under Carl Freiherr von Rokitansky (1804-1878).
Zuckerkandl obtained his medical doctorate in 1874 and was habilitated in 1880. Besides Rokitansky he also worked with Karl Langer (1819-1887) in anatomy. He became ausserordentlicher professor in 1879, was called to Graz as ordinarius in 1882 and, in 1888, following the death of Langer, assumed the chair at Vienna, where he remained until his death. he was a member of the Akademie der Wissenschaften from 1898.
Zuckerkandl distinguished himself in his sharp observational powers and critical mind. As a researcher he worked in almost all fields of morphology, making notable contributions to the normal and pathological anatomy of the nasal cavity, the anatomy of the facial skeleton, the hearing organs, teeth, blood vessels, the brain (development des Balkens and the Gewölbe), as well as the chromaffine system. He took topographical and comparative anatomy to new heights. His brother was the urologist Otto Zuckerkandl (1861-1921).
In 1876 he discovered the Aquaeductus vestibuli, which had been described by the Italian physician Domenico Felice Antonio Cotugno in 1775, but had fallen into oblivion. This is now referred to as Cotunnius’ aquaduct.
Emil Zuckerkandl is one of (probably) very few medical scientists who is now remembered as much for his wife, as for his achievements in medicine. His wife, Bertha Zuckerkandl-Szeps (1864-1945),
one of the most remarkable personalities of the intellectual Jewish society in Vienna during the last decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and up until the darkest hours of history during the Second World War.
Their house became a meeting point, a salon, for the avant garde in arts and science. Amon the guests in their salon were the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), the painter Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), the architect Otto Wagner (1841-1918), the writer Hermann Bahr (1863-1934), the playwright Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931) and the composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), who met his wife Alma there.
While a medical student in Vienna, Zuckerkandl was an excellent fencer and would not suffer insults easily.
We thank Joseph S. Cooper for information submitted.
We thank Ronald Boyle and Tatjana Buklijas for correcting errors.