Biography of Wilhelm Ebstein
Wilhelm Ebstein studied in Breslau under Friedrich Theodor von Frerichs (1819-1885) and in Berlin under Rudolf Virchow and Moritz Heinrich Romberg (1795-1873). He was conferred doctor of medicine on July 11, 1859, and in 1861 got a position at the Allerheiligen-Hospital (All Saint’s Hospital) in Breslau, where, in 1864, he also took over the prosectorate. He was habilitated for internal medicine at the Breslau faculty in 1869. After nine years at the Allerheiligen-Hospital he became chief physician at the city poorhouse (Findelhaus).
In 1874 he was invited to Göttingen as professor of medicine and director of the polyclinic, and in 1877 also assumed leadership of the medical clinic, succeeding Karl Ewald Hasse (1810-1902), who was forced to resign because of his political views. Here he excelled as a restless teacher, researcher, organizer, crating a model clinic and scientific laboratories. He retired in 1906 and died in October 1912.
Ebstein made many contributions to the study of metabolic disease; he produced bladderstone experimentally and noticed cylinduria in diabetic coma.
Among Ebstein’s most important works was a review of kidney disease in one of the standard medical texts. In 1887 he described the chronic, recurrent febrile condition in Hodgkins disease called Pel-Ebstein fever. In 1892 he published the article Diagnosis of Incipient Pericardial Effusions and wrote a section on renal disease in the book Senile Diseases which was published with Gustav Albert Schwalbe (1844-1916).
His other contributions of importance were a book Obesity and Its Treatment (Die Fettleibigkeit und ihre Behandlung) which went through 7 editions and another on Diabetes Dietetic Managament. He wrote on the medical illness of prominent Germans in history, e.g. Luther, Schopenhauer, and medicine in the Talmud and Bible. Ebstein was reputed to be a superb clinician with a wide circle of friends and a keen interest in literature and the visual arts.
His work for the health council in Göttingen gave him ample opportunity to study hygiene.