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Bernhard Lauritz Frederik Bang

Born 1848
Died 1932

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Danish veterinary and bacteriologist, born June 7, 1848, Sorø, Sjelland; died June 22, 1932, Fredriksberg, Copenhagen.

Biography of Bernhard Lauritz Frederik Bang

Bernhard Lauritz Frederik Bang was the son of Jacob Henrik Bang (1809-1899), head teacher at Sorø Akademis lærde skole and later titular professor. His mother was Laura Louise Marie Josephine Mott (1814-1891).

Bang graduated in medicine from the University of Copenhagen in 1872 and subsequently attended the Royal School of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 1873. He then worked as a candidate at Almindelig Hospital and Kommunehospitalet, while also practicing medicine for s brief period at Nørrebro, Copenhagen. He was affiliated with Kommunehospitalet for five years, first as prosector, then as Reservemedicus in a medical department under Fr. Trier.

When the professor at the Royal School of Veterinary Medicine died in 1879, the director of the school, C. E. Fenger, encouraged Bang to apply for a teaching position at the school. Thus, in 1880 Bang was appointed professor of surgery and chief of the ambulatory service at Den Kgl. Veterinær- og Landbohøjskole - the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural College in Copenhagen - of which he became director. He held his professorship until 1914. Shortly after entering his tenure, in the spring of 1880, he went on and educational journey to the veterinary schools in Germany, Austria and France. He returned in May to defend his thesis for the medical doctorate.

Bang's teaching, with the introduction of antiseptics, represented a watershed in veterinary surgery. Although long recognized in human medicine, antiseptics had been met with little attention by veterinaries. With audacity – and some luck – he succeeded in several particularly difficult operations that had hitherto yielded poor results. Travelling Denmark to teach veterinaries antiseptic methods, he acquired valuable material for study.

Bang had accepted an obligation to teach pathological anatomy, a discipline that had been neglected at the veterinary school, and was not taught at all after the death of professor Bay in 1880. When G. A. C. Sand from 1887 took over surgical training and the directorship of the ambulatory clinic, and in 1889 also took over surgery, Bang was able to devote more of his time to pathological anatomy. Later he also taught general pathology, special pathology, therapy, and pharmacodynamics. He was also made chief of the clinic for smaller domestic animals, and then of the clinic for larger animals, and finally the experimental laboratory in the department of bacteriology. Thus Bang was deeply involved in almost every aspect of veterinary medicine.

Bang was a prominent scientist conducting epoch-making research on bovine tuberculosis, for which he developed a method of control. He also contributed important research on smallpox vaccination and on infections of the udder and other bacillary diseases of animals. This pioneering work has laid the foundation for combating these diseases all over the world.

Bang cultured the bacilli of bovine tuberculosis in 1884, and in 1897, he and V. Stribolt discovered Brucella abortus.

Bang was instrumental in showing that tuberculosis could be transmitted by cow's milk and in developing isolation techniques. He was the first to use tuberculin, discovered by Robert Koch in 1890, on cattle. He used it diagnostically, rather than therapeutically, thus introducing a means for liberating livestock of tuberculosis and create clean breeding centres.

Bang was veterinærfysikus 1892-1922, and also served as veterinary adviser to the Danish government. He was a member of a large number of commissions and received honours from both home and abroad. In 1930 he became an honorary member of the International Veterinary Congresses. He was made doctor of medicine honoris causa in Kristiania (now Oslo) in 1911the same year doctor of veterinary medicine honoris causa in Vienna, and 1921 in Utrecht.

Bang married Anna Elisabeth Caroline Klee (1844-1922) in Sorø on December 20, 1874.

Besides scientific books and papers, Bang also published works on the history of veterinary medicine, among them biographies of Abildgaard (1901) and the teachers of the school of veterinary medicine until 1880, and on the first veterinary schools in France.

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