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Friedrich Albert von Zenker

Born  1825
Died  1898

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German physician and pathologist, born March 13, 1825, Dresden; died June 13, 1898, on the estate Reppentin near Plau in Mecklenburg.

Biography of Friedrich Albert von Zenker

Friedrich Albert von Zenker studied in Leipzig from 1843 to 1847, and again 1848-1849. Among his teachers in Leipzig were Ernst Heinrich Weber (1795-1878), Gustav Biedermann Günther (1801-1866), Johann Ritter von Oppolzer (1808-1871), and Justus Radius (1797-1884). In between he studied in Heidelberg under Friedrich Gustav Jacob Henle (1809-1885) and Karl von Pfeufer (1806-1869). While in Leipzig, he was for a period assistant under Radius in the Leipziger Georgen-Hospital.

After receiving his doctorate at Leipzig in 1851, Zenker went to Vienna to receive education in pathology under Karl Freiherr von Rokitansky (1804-1878) and Richard Ladislaus Heschl (1824-1881). In 1851 he assumed the position of prosector in the Dresden city hospital, teaching as a Dozent 1853-1855, then as professor of general pathology and pathological anatomy at the medico-chirurgical academy of that town. He held these positions until 1863, when he took over the chair at Erlangen, holding this position with great success both as a teacher and researcher for more than 30 years.

Zenker in 1865 received the Monthyon prize, and the Bavarian Order of the Crown. Zenker retired in 1895, and died on June 13, 1898, while on a visit to Rappentin in Mecklenburg.

On January 28, 1860, Zenker discovered a trichinosis in the body of a girl who had died in the Dresden hospital. He thus first demonstrated that trichins, which since the middle of the 1830’s had been considered more or less harmless parasites, were capable of producing severe, even deadly diseases, often affecting man.

Zenker was co-editor with Hugo Wilhelm von Ziemssen of the Archiv für klinische Medizin from 1866 to 1897.


  • Ueber die Trichinenkrankheit des Menschen. Virchows Archiv für pathologische Anatomie und Physiologie und für klinische Medizin, Berlin, 1860, 18: 561-572.
    The intestinal and muscular forms of trichinosis were first noted by Zenker, who established their connection with the disease.
    English translation in Benjamin Harrison Kean (1912-) et al: Tropical medicine and parasitology: classic investigations. 1 volume in two. Ithaca, London, Cornell University Press, 1968.
  • Beiträge zur Lehre von der Trichinenkrankheit.
    Historical survey in Deutsches Archiv für klinische Medicin, 1866; 1: 90-124.
    These works opened the way for the long series of investigations on trichinosis subsequently made by Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902), Gottlob Friedrich Heinrich Kuechenmeister (1821-1890), Karl Georg Friedrich Rudolph Leuckart (1823-1898), and others.
  • Beiträge zur normalen und pathologischen Anatomie der Lungen.
    Dresden, G. Schönfeld's Buchhandlung, 1862.
    First description of pulmonary fat embolism in man.
  • Ueber die Veränderungen der willkürlichen Muskeln in Typhus abdom.
    Leipzig, 1864.
  • Krankheiten des Oesophagus.
    With Hugo Wilhelm von Ziemssen, Leipzig, 1867.
    Also in von Ziemssen’s Handbuch der allgemeinen Therapie, 1874; 7, 1st part, Anhang, pp. 1-208.
    English translation, New York, 1878, pp. 1-214.
  • Ueber Staubinhalationskrankheiten der Lungen.
    Deutsches Archiv für klinische Medicin, 1867, II: 116-172.
    Zenker described siderosis and suggested the term "pneumokoniosis" as a suitable general title for diseases due to inhaled dust.
  • Zur pathologischen Anatomie der acuten gelben Leberatrophie.
    Deutsches Archiv für klinische Medicin, Leipzig, 1872; X.
  • Ueber den Cysticercus racemosus des Gehirns. Bonn, 1882.
  • Josef Heurich:
    Leben und Wirken Friedrich Albert von Zenkers. Düsseldorf, 1938.
    [Life and work of Friedrich Albert von Zenker].
  • Hermann Schröder:
    Ein Erinnerungsblatt für Friedrich Albert von Zenker.
    Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift, 1925, 72: 436-437.

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