Henrique da Rocha Lima

Born 1879
Died 1956

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Brazilian physician, pathologist and infectologist, born November 24, 1879, Rio de Janeiro; died April 12, 1956.

Biography of Henrique da Rocha Lima

Henrique da Rocha Lima was the son of Henrique Carlos da Rocha Lima and Hermizilia Cássia Rocha Lima. He obtained his M.D. degree from the Medical School of Rio de Janeiro in 1905.

In 1902, Roche Lima, Adolfo Lutz, Carlos Chagas and other researchers in the area of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases joined Oswaldo Goncalves Cruz (1872-1941) in the establishment of the Instituto Serotherapico Federal, usually known as the Instituto Manguinhos, in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. In 1908 this institute was renamed Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. Rocha. Lima was only twenty-four when he became professor of pathology there.

In 1906 he went to Germany to work with professor Hermann Dürck (1869-1941) in Munich. In September 1909 he was appointed as head of the new department of pathology at the Institut für Schiffs- und Tropenkrankheiten (Institute for maritime and Tropical Diseases) in Hamburg. This Institute was later renamed the Bernhard Nocht Institute für Tropenmedizin, in honour of its founder, Bernhard Nocht (1857-1945). He remained in Hamburg until December 1927.

In Hamburg, Rocha Lima worked with Stanislaus von Prowazek (1875-1915) and together they described Rickettsia prowazeki. Prowazek had studied epidemic typhus in Serbia in 1913, and in 1914 they did research on an epidemic in Istanbul. In 1915 they both became infected while working in a prison hospital in Germany, facing an outbreak of epidemic typhus among the Russian prisoners of war. Prowazek died on February 17, 1915.

I 1916 Rocha Lima grouped the microorganisms in the order Rickettsiales and named them Rickettsia in honour of the American bacteriologist and pathologist Howard Tayler Ricketts (1871-1910). He named the agent of typhus Rickettsia prowazeki after Ricketts and his diseased friend.

He later described another louse-transmitted infectious agent, Rickettsia quintana,(later Rochalimea quintana, now Bartonella quintana), the causative agent of Trench fever. In 1905 an epidemic fever was named “lesão Rocha Lima”. The parasitic nematode name Terranova rochalimai (Pereira, 1935) is also named in his honour.

Back in Brazil, Rocha Lima worked in São Paulo. He was a great scientific and educational leader, having participated in the foundation of the Paulista School of Medicine, and of the University of São Paulo.

Rocha Lima was also a president of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science. He received many awards and distinctions, such as the Iron Cross of the German Empire, the Benemerence Medal by Pope Pius XI, the Nocht Medal for distinguished researchers on Tropical Diseases, and the effective membership of the German Academy of Natural Sciences.

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