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Franz Volhard

Born  1872
Died  1950

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German internist, born May 2, 1872, Munich; died May 24, 1950, Frankfurt am Main.

Biography of Franz Volhard

Franz Volhard spent his student years at Bonn, Halle an der Saale, and Strassburg, obtaining his doctorate at Halle in 1897. He first worked in the pathological institute of the Friedrichshain hospital in Berlin under David Paul Hansemann (1858-1920). From 1898 to 1905 he worked at the university medical clinic under Franz Riegel (1843-1904) at Giessen, where he was habilitated for internal medicine and commenced lecturing in 1901. In 1905 he became chief of the medical department of the Dortmund Municipal Hospital, in 1908 director of the Mannheim city Krankenanstalt. In 1918 he accepted an invitation as ordentlicher Professor at Halle an der Saale, moving to the same tenure in Frankfurt am Main in 1927. While he was on a lecturing tour in South America in 1938, he was emerited – against his own wish – for reason of high age. It was not until 1945 he was able to return to his clinic in Frankfurt am Main. Volhard, the Nestor of German nephrology and the father of ten children, died following a car accident in 1950.

Although he was mainly clinically orientated, Volhard realised the importance of the application of pathology and physiology to medical study. His monograph on Bright’s disease, written in collaboration with the pathologist Karl Theodor Fahr became a classic and made Volhard’s clinic the centre of world nephrology. Although principally interested in renal disease he made a number of important contributions in other areas, discovering lipase in the heart and kidney and describing the digestion of fat as well as developing a method for studying enzyme content in gastric juices in 1903. He collaborated with Viktor Schmieden (1874-1945) in 1923 in investigations which led to the first pericardectomy for constrictive pericarditis. He died following an accident.

In 1899 he discovered the decomposing ferment in heart and kidney. (Zeitschrift für klinische Medizin, 1900, 42: 414).

The Franz-Volhard-Klinik in Berlin is named for him.

Volhard was co-publisher of the journal Zentralblatt für innere Medizin.


  • Die Brightsche Nierenkrankheit.
    With Karl Theodor Fahr. Berlin, J. Springer, 1914.
    First full description of pure nephrosis, relating clinical features to morbid anatomy.
  • Ueber Erkennung und Behandlung der Umklammerung des Herzens durch schwielige Parikarditis.
    With Viktor Schmieden (1874-1945).
    Klinische Wochenschrift, Berlin, 1923, 2: 5-9.
    First complete pericardiectomy for constrictive pericarditis.
  • Die doppelseitigen hämatogenen Nierenerkrankungen (Brightsche Krankheit). Berlin, 1918; 2nd edition, 1931.
  • Die klinischen Methoden der Nierenfunktionsprüfung.
    With Friedrich Erwin Becher (1890-1949). Berlin and Vienna, 1929.
  • Handbuch der Nierenkrankheiten. 1931.
  • Nierenkrankheiten. 2 volumes; Jena 1944/1947.
  • Nieren und ableitende Harnwege. With Friedrich Suter (1870-).
    In: Handbuch der inneren Medizin, 2nd editon, volume 6; Berlin, 1931.

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