Jules Sichel

Born 1802
Died 1868

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German-French ophthalmologist, born May 14, 1802, Frankfurt am Main; died November 11, 1868, Paris.

Biography of Jules Sichel

Jules Sichel was born to a Jewish family in Frankfurt. Our sources disagree as to where he studied. According to a German source, he studied medicine at Tübingen from 1820, and from 1822 at Berlin, obtaining his doctorate in 1825. According to a French source, he studied medicine at Würzburg, where he, in 1823, obtained his first position, as chef de clinique under professor Johann Lucas Schönlein.

From 1825 to 1829 Sichel was assistant in Christoph Friedrich von Jaeger’s (1784–1871) ophthalmological clinic in Vienna. In 1829 he settled in Paris, where he established the first ophthalmological clinic in 1832, in rue Jacob. He passed the French state examination in 1833. In 1836, in rue Férou, he opened his next ophthalmological clinic, which particularly served the poor.

Over the years he became eye physician to the educational institutions of the Legion of Honour. He frequently presided over ophthalmological congresses, and was honorary president of the society of German physicians in Paris. Sichel introduced the use of the ophthalmoscope in France.

Jules Sichel was a polymath of exceptional intellectual abilities and an extraordinary personality. His interests included the history of medicine, ancient and oriental languages, archaeology, and entomology. He also assembled valuable collections of books, butterflies, and ancient Roman inscription stones. He translated books from Greek and Latin and was a master of the French language. His main interest as an entomologist was the Hymenoptera, an order of insects comprising more than 110.000 species, including ants, bees, ichneumons, chalcids, sawflies, and wasps.

Besides contributing to French and German medical journals, Sichel was also a collaborator to the Journal asiatique, Revue archéolique, Revue de philologie, and Annales de la Société entomologique de France. His main concerns, however, always remained ophthalmology.

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