- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Gustav Albert Schwalbe

Born  1844-08-01
Died  1916-04-23

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    German anatomist and anthropologist, born August 1, 1844, Quedlinburg; died April 23, 1916, Strassburg.

    Biography of Gustav Albert Schwalbe

    Gustav Albert Schwalbe was the son of a physician. He attended the universities of Berlin, Zurich and Bonn, obtained his doctorate at Berlin in 1866 and subsequently went to Max J. Schultze (1825-1874) in Bonn, where he discovered the taste buds. In 1868 he became assistant at the physiological institute in Amsterdam with Willy Kühne (1837-1900), in 1870 he was habilitated as Privatdozent for anatomy at Halle an der Saale.

    Following promotion to doctor he was a subordinate physician at the military hospital (stehendes Kriegslazarett) in Reichenberg in Bohemia. He was also a court counsellor and privy medical councel. Durig the Franco-Prussian war he was an assistant physician in the 7. Kürassier-Regiment

    In 1871, after the war, he came to the University of Freiburg im Breisgau as Privatdozent and prosector to Johan Alexander Ecker (1816-1887). Already in the autumn of that year, however, he was called to Leipzig as professor extraordinary of histology, and in 1873 succeeded Carl Gegenbaur (1826-1903) as ordentlicher Professor of anatomy at Jena. In 1881 he was called to Königsberg as ordinarius and director of the anatomical institute, and in 1883 to Strassburg, where he held the same positions until 1914.

    In 1869 Schwalbe injected Berlin-blue dye into the subarachnoid space of a dog, and was the first to demonstrate that the major pathways to absorb cerebrospinal fluid were lymphatic pathways. The subarachnoid or subdural spaces between the internal and external sheaths of the optic nerve are now referred to as Schwalbe's spaces; also called the intervaginal spaces of optic nerve (spatia intervaginalia nervi optici). His name is lent to several other anatomical structures, including Schwalbe's nucleus or the vestibular nucleus, Schwalbe's ring, which is a circular ridge consisting of collagenous fibers surrounding the outer margin of Descemet's membrane, and Schwalbe's line, an anatomical line located on the posterior surface of the eye's cornea.

    Schwalbe is remembered for his anthropological research of primitive man. He considered the Neanderthal to be a direct ancestor of modern humans. He also wrote an influential treatise on Java Man, which had been a recent discovery by Eugène Dubois (1858-1940).

    Schwalbe was a member of honour of the Anthropological Societies of Rome, Brussels and Vienna.

    We thank William Charles Caccamise Sr, MD, for information submitted.


    Schwalbe was the publisher of:
    • Morphologischen Arbeiten" 1891-98.
    • Jahresberichte über die Fortschritte der Anatomie und Entwicklungsgeschichte, 1892-1916.
    • Beiträge zur Anthropologie Elsaß-Lothringens, 1898 ff.
    • Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Anthropologie, 1899 ff.
    • Observationes Nonnullae De Infusiorum Ciliatorum Structura. Doctoral thesis University of Berlin, 1866.
    • De canali Petiti et de zonula ciliari. Habilitattion thesis for anatomy at the University of Halle.
    • Atlas der topographischen Anatomie des Menschen: für Studierende und Ärzte (Atlas of applied (topographical) human anatomy for students and practitioners); with Heinrich Haeckel, in collaboration with Fritz Frohse (1871-1916) and Theodor Ziehen (1862-1950).
    • Die Lymphbahnen des Auges. In Salomon Stricker (1834-1898): Handbuch der Lehre von den Geweben des Menschen und der Thiere. Vienna, 1871.
    • Mirkoskopische Anatomie der Sehnerven, der Netzhaut und des Glaskörpers. In: Handbuch der Augenheilkunde, volume 1, Leipzig, 1874.
    • Lehrbuch der Neurologie. In Carl Ernst Emil Hoffmann (1827-1877): Grundriss der Anatomie des Menschen: Für Studirende. Volume 2, 2; Erlangen, 1881.
    • Ueber die Kaliberverhältnisse der Nervenfasern. Leipzig, F. C. W. Vogel, 1882.
    • Anleitung zum Praeparieren auf dem Seciersaale. 1884.
    • Lehrbuch der Anatomie der Sinnesorgane. Erlangen, 1885-1887.
    • Das äussere Ohr. In Karl Heinrich von Bardeleben’s (1849-1919) Handbuch der Anatomie des Menschen, volume 5; Jena, 1897. Volume 1 No. 1 has title: Handbuch der Anatomie.
    • Studien über Pithecantropus erectus. Leipzig, 1899.
    • Der Neander Schädel. Leipzig, 1901.
    • Über geteilte Scheitelbeine. Stuttgart 1903.
    • Die Vorgeschichte des Menschen. Leipzig, 1904.
    • Studien  zur Vorgeschichte des Menschen. Stuttgart, 1906.
    • Über die Richtung der Haare bei den Affenembryonen. In Emil Selenkas’s (1842-1902) Studien über Menschenaffen, volume 10, Wiesbaden, 1911.
    Bibliography in Anatomischer Anzeiger, 1916-1917, 49: 216.

    Biographical etc:
    • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    • Julius Leopold Pagel (1851-1912), publisher:Biographisches Lexikon hervorragender Ärzte des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts.Urban & Schwarzenberg, Berlin and Vienna, 1901.
    • Festschrift für Gustav Schwalbe zur Feier seines 70. Geburtstages am 1. August 1914. Stuttgart 1914.
    • Eugen Fischer: Gustav Schwalbe.Offprint of: Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Anthropologie, volume 20, Stuttgart 1917.
    • Isidor Fischer (1869-1943), publisher:Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärzte der letzten fünfzig Jahre.Berlin – Wien, Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1932.

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