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Ernst Leberecht Wagner

Born  1829
Died  1888

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German pathologist, born March 12, 1829, Dehlitz bei Weissenfels; died February 10, 1888, Leipzig.

Biography of Ernst Leberecht Wagner

Ernst Leberecht Wagner’s first encounter with medicine was through his uncle, a country practitioner in Borna, Saxony. He studied in Leipzig under Karl Reinhold August Wunderlich (1815-1877), in Prague under Josef Skoda (1805-1881), and with Karl Freiherr von Rokitansky (1804-1878) in Vienna.

Wagner received his medical doctorate in 1852. Following graduation he settled as a general practitioner in Leipzig, but with little success. His lack of patients made him consider moving deep into the province of Bohemia, but in stead he wrote a monograph on uterine cancer, which earned him his habilitation in Leipzig 1855. On January 1, 1862, he became professor extraordinary of general pathology anatomy at the University of Leipzig, and in 1869 he became the university’s first ordinarius of general pathology and pathological anatomy.

In 1877 Wagner succeeded Wunderlich as professor of special pathology and therapy as well as director of the medical clinic. He remained in this position, with the title of Geheimer Medizinalrat –Privy Medical Counsellor – until his death from a kidney disease in 1888.

Before his death in 1888, he privately organised and financed a recuperation centre for children, the Waldpark Grünheide, in the forest of Vogtland. Here the Ernst-Wagner-Kinderkurheim was opened in 1901.

Wagner was recognized as an excellent teacher and was a beloved practitioner. He was for a long time chairman of the medical association in Leipzig.

Wagner published the journal Archiv der Heilkunde 1860-1878, and occasioned a complete edition of Julius Friedrich Cohnheim’s (1839-1884) work.


  • Der Gebärmutterkrebs. Leipzig, B. G. Teubner, 1858.
    In this work Wagner presented the first important contribution to the knowledge of the gross pathology of uterine cancer.
  • Handbuch der allgemeinen Pathologie. By Johann Paul Uhle (1827-1861) und Wagner.
    Leipzig, 1862. 2nd edition 1864, 3rd. edition 1865.
    4th and expanded edition published by Wagner. Leipzig, Verlag von Otto Wigand, 1868. 5th edition 1872, 6th edition 1874, 7th edition 1876. English translation, New York, 1876/1877. French, Paris, 1872. Greek, Athens 1876, Polish translation by Heinrich Luczkiewicz (1826-1891). Wagner’s best-known work.
  • Die Fettmetamorphose des Herzfleisches. Leipzig, 1864.
  • Das Colloid-Milium der Hut. Archiv der Heilkunde, 1866, 7: 463-464.
    Colloid degeneration of the skin, Wagner’s disease.
  • Das tuberkelähnliche Lymphadenom. 1871.
  • Krankheiten der Nasenrachenhöhle und des Rachens.
    With Hermann Friedrich Wendt (1838-1875). In: Hugo Wilhelm von Ziemssen (1829-1902), et al: Handbuch der speciellen Pathologie und Therapie. 17 volumes, Leipzig, 1875-1885.
  • Der Morbus Brightii.
  • Krankheiten des weichen Gaumens.
    Worked out by Wagner, in Hugo Wilhelm von Ziemssen’s Handbuch der speciellen Pathologie und Therapie, volume VII, IX. Leipzig.
  • Felix Victor Birch-Hirschfeld:
    Ernst Leberecht Wagner. Deutsche medicinische Wochenschrift, 1888, 14: 217-219.

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