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Jacob Munch Heiberg

Born 1843
Died 1888

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Norwegian surgeon, born June 12, 1843, Christiania (Oslo); died April 30, 1888, Gaustad sykehus, Oslo.

Biography of Jacob Munch Heiberg

Jacob Munch Heiberg was the son of the surgeon general Johan Fritzner Heiberg (1805-1883). He graduated in medicine on December 16, 1867. From December 1867 to December 1868 he was a candidate physician at Rikshospitalet in Christiania (now Oslo), then until May, 1869 at the maternal clinic – Fødselsstiftelsen i Christiania. From the middle of July 1870 he worked as assistant to the prosector at the Rikshospitalet.

Heiberg received a scholarship of 300 speciedaler to study surgery and diseases of the eye abroad. At the outbreak of Franco-German war he travelled to Berlin, where he was employed as a physician from August 1870 to the middle of March 1871. He first worked for three weeks in the military hospital Gardeuhlan-Kazerne-Lazarett at Moabit, then in the barracks field hospital at Tempelhofer Feld. Here, among other things, he was in charge of the isolation unit for hospital fever – Hospitalsbrand. In October 1870 he accompanied the Berliner Hülfsvereins first sanitary train to collect wounded from Metz, and in December that year he went to Gonesse near Paris for the same purpose.

Heiberg studied anatomy in Berlin under professor Karl Bogislaus Reichert (1811-1884) until May 1871, when he received employment as an assistant at the university surgical clinic in Rostock under professor Franz König (1832-1910). From November 1871 to the end of 1872 he worked as an assistant at the royal university surgical clinic in Königsberg under professor Karl Wilhelm Ernst Joachim Schönborn (1840-1906).

In 1872 Heiberg was appointed company surgeon to the brigade in Trondheim. After spending a couple of months at home in the autumn of that year, he received a state scholarship of 250 speciedaler for an educational journey to Leipzig, Dresden and Vienna. He stayed in Vienna until late February 1873, when he returned home to participate in a concours for the chair of surgery and diseases of the eye that had been vacated through the death of his uncle Christen Heiberg (1799-1872). He was unsuccessful, as the chair went to Johan Storm Hjort (1835-1905). Heiberg then settled in Christiania as a practitioner and in May that year established an eye clinic. He continued to practice until 1882, when he abandoned his practice in order to devote his efforts to academic pursuits. He was relieved from of duties as a military physician in 1874.

Heiberg received his medical doctorate on June 5, 1875. From January 1876 to August 1877 he was on an educational journey, visiting Paris and Vienna. On October 26, 1877 he was appointed professor of medicine at the University of Kristiania, teaching descriptive and topographical anatomy, histology and embryology. Failing health forced him to retire from his tenure in February 1887.

Heiberg was a member of Videnskabs-Selskabet i Christiania from April 1, 1881, of Verein für wissenschaftliche Heilkunde in Königsberg, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Chirurgie in Berlin. On June 6, 1886, at the initiative of senator, professor Paolo Montegazza, he was awarded the great Galilean silver medal "pour des mérites de la science" from the faculty of natural sciences in Florence. he was the first Scandinavian to receive this medal, which is awarded only once a year. He was also awarded a medal for his efforts during the Franco-German war.

Jacob Munch Heiberg was among the first to advocate women's right to study medicine in Norway. The first woman to graduate in medicine from the University of Kristiania was Marie Holth, née Spångberg (1865-1042), in 1903.

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