- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Otto Ullrich

Born 1894
Died 1957

Related eponyms

German paediatrician, 1894-1957.

Biography of Otto Ullrich

Following medical studies in Munich, Otto Ullrich served as an assistant physician in the medical corps During World War I. After the war he worked with professor Meinhard von Pfaundler (1872-1947), the chairman of paediatrics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. Pfaundler influenced Ullrich in his interest in medical genetics. Pfaundler is eponymously associated with a reaction for coli- and Proteus-bacillus, and for Pfaundler-Hurler syndrome, or gargoylism. The latter is commonly known as Hurler's disease.

In 1922 Ullrich was appointed director of the policlinic and in 1929 achieved faculty status. In 1934 he moved to Berlin as director of the National Centre to Combat Infant Mortality, a post for which knowledge of human genetics was a prerequisite. Ullrich, however, was unhappy with the political atmosphere in Berlin, and after six months he moved to Essen, as director of the Municipal Children's Hospital. In 1939 Ullrich was called to the chair of paediatrics at Rostock and in 1943 he took up the chair in Bonn, where he remained until his death in 1957.

Ullrich's achievements were honoured in 1991 by the establishment of the Otto Ullrich medal for excellence in medical genetics. The creation of this award was announced in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, in an edition that contained an editorial and several articles pertaining to Ullrich and his scientific achievements.

Hans-Rudolf Wiedemann, professor emeritus of the University of Kiel and Ullrich's former chief resident, gave this account of his mentor's professional and personal attributes:

    "As physician, Ullrich was very broad based. At the bedside he was patient and was quickly to win the trust of the child. He examined very calmly and was an excellent observer with a capacity to take in the essentials of the case at a glance. The laboratory data were reviewed routinely but were never overemphasised, quite in the highly critical and analytical Munich spirit. His special ability to retain and to recall previous cases allowed Ullrich to make correct diagnoses with surprising ease. His rounds were as punctual as clockwork and very thorough, offering a wealth of information and experienced counsel, enriched by his critical perspective and pronounced distaste against hastiness, especially in therapy. This was not only a result of his Munich background but also reflected his personal inclination.

    As a human being Otto Ullrich had a gracious and noble personality, with a compelling glance and a care for moderation and compromise. Apart from professional contacts, Ullrich could be reserved with younger co-workers; however, when he was able to open himself to others he always engendered much joy."

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