Otto Kahler

Born 1849
Died 1893

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Austrian internist, born January 8, 1849, Prague; died January 24, 1893, Vienna.

Biography of Otto Kahler

Otto Kahler, the son of a physician, studied in his native city of Prague and obtained his doctorate in 1871. Following an educational journey to Paris, Kahler became assistant at the internal clinic of Joseph Halla (1814-1887) in Prague, and was habilitated as Dozent for internal medicine at the German university in Prague, becoming ausserordentlicher professor in 1882, 1886 ordinarius of special pathology and therapy and head of the 2nd medical clinic at the German university.

Kahler preached the gospel of Jean-Martin Charcot’s (1825-1893) approach to clinical medicine and neurology to Middle Europe. When in 1889 he moved to Vienna to succeed Heinrich von Bamberger (1822-1888) as ordinarius of special pathology and head of the medical clinic, he took Friedrich Kraus (1858-) with him as assistant.

After a year in Vienna Kahler developed cancer of the tongue. Kraus took over his lectures and established himself as a brilliant teacher, laying the foundation for his appointment to Berlin. Kahler died in Vienna in 1893.

Despite his short lifespan, by his literary activity Kahler obtained a reputation as one of the important clinicians in his time.

The Czechoslovakian neurologist and psychiatrist Arnold Pick (1851-1924) was a close associate of Otto Kahler. Together they had worked out what in 1880 became known as Kahler-Pick law. It concerned the respective arrangement of incoming posterior root fibres in the posterior columns of the spinal cord. An ingenious injection technique enabled them to demonstrate that the fibres at higher levels displace to progressively more medial planes those that enter at lower levels.

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