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Martin Heidenhain

Born  1864
Died  1949

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German anatomist, born December 7, 1864, Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland); died December 14, 1949, Tübingen.

Biography of Martin Heidenhain

Martin Heidenhain was born into a family of physicians and university professor. His grandfather was Heinrich Jacob Heidenhain (1808-1868), a prominent Prussian physician; his father was Rudolf Peter Heinrich Heidenhain (1834-1937), professor at Breslau and rmembered for Heidenhain's cells and Heidenhain's pouch etc. His mother, Fanny Volkmann, was the daughter of the anatomist and physiologist Alfred Wilhelm Volkmann (1800-1877), professor at the University of Halle, and his brother was the well-known Breslau surgeon Lothar Heidenhain (1860-1940).

Heidenhain attended the Gymnasium in Breslau. He studied biology at the Universities of Breslau and Würzburg before he changed to the study of medicine in Freiburg im Breisgau. After obtaining his M.D. in 1890 he became an assistant to the anatomist Rudolf Albert von Kölliker (1817-1905) at Würzburg, and prosector of comparative anatomy, embryology, and histology. He was habilitated for anatomy in 1894, and in 1899 moved to the University of Tübingen as prosector and extraordinary professor. Heidenhain remained at Tübingen for the rest of his life.

In 1917, following the death of August von Froriep (1849-1917), he was appointed professor of anatomy. While in Würzburg, Heidenhain married Anna Hesse, the daughter of a lawyer. The couple had three sons, all of whom they survived.

He was a versatile researcher and teacher, teaching microscopy, embryology, and anatomy, but it is owing to his contributions to microtechnique that Heidenhain’s name is known to all present-day histologists and cytologists. In 1914 he hired the precision engineer Paul Graf (1892-1962) to produce the 30,000 to 40,000 preparations used annually at his courses. These were given to the students when they hade completed the course. In 1894 he introduced the term "telophase" for the final stage of mitiosis. Heidenhain was a pleasant and congenital man, well liked by his colleagues, assistants, and students.

Heidenhain produced more than 100 publications, including several books.

    «I have always made up my own methods, just as I needed them»


  • Neue Untersuchungen ueber die Centralkörper und ihre Beziehungen zom Kern und Zellenprotoplasma.
    Habilitationsschrift Würzburg. Bonn, 1894.
    Separate printing from Archiv für mikrosjopische Anatomie, volume 43.
    Introducing the term "telophase".
  • Über chemische Umsetzung zwischen Eiweisskörpern und Anilinfarben. Bonn, 1902.
  • Allgemeine Anatomie der lebendigen Masse.
    In Bardeleben: Handbuch der Anatomie. Volume 8. Jena, 1907-1911.
  • Plasma und Zelle. 1907-1911. Heidenhain's magnum opus.
  • Max Alfert:
    Martin Heidenhain. In: Charles Coulston Gillispie, editor in chief: Dictionary of Scientific Biographies. Charles Scribner’s Sons. New York, 1970. Volume 6: 223-224.
We thank Rudolf Kleinert, Bad Reichenhall, Germany, for information submitted.

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