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Henrique da Rocha Lima

Born  1879
Died  1956

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Brazilian physician, pathologist and infectologist, born November 24, 1879, Rio de Janeiro; died April 12, 1956.

Biography of Henrique da Rocha Lima

Henrique da Rocha Lima was the son of Henrique Carlos da Rocha Lima and Hermizilia Cássia Rocha Lima. He obtained his M.D. degree from the Medical School of Rio de Janeiro in 1905.

In 1902, Roche Lima, Adolfo Lutz, Carlos Chagas and other researchers in the area of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases joined Oswaldo Goncalves Cruz (1872-1941) in the establishment of the Instituto Serotherapico Federal, usually known as the Instituto Manguinhos, in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. In 1908 this institute was renamed Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. Rocha. Lima was only twenty-four when he became professor of pathology there.

In 1906 he went to Germany to work with professor Hermann Dürck (1869-1941) in Munich. In September 1909 he was appointed as head of the new department of pathology at the Institut für Schiffs- und Tropenkrankheiten (Institute for maritime and Tropical Diseases) in Hamburg. This Institute was later renamed the Bernhard Nocht Institute für Tropenmedizin, in honour of its founder, Bernhard Nocht (1857-1945). He remained in Hamburg until December 1927.

In Hamburg, Rocha Lima worked with Stanislaus von Prowazek (1875-1915) and together they described Rickettsia prowazeki. Prowazek had studied epidemic typhus in Serbia in 1913, and in 1914 they did research on an epidemic in Istanbul. In 1915 they both became infected while working in a prison hospital in Germany, facing an outbreak of epidemic typhus among the Russian prisoners of war. Prowazek died on February 17, 1915.

I 1916 Rocha Lima grouped the microorganisms in the order Rickettsiales and named them Rickettsia in honour of the American bacteriologist and pathologist Howard Tayler Ricketts (1871-1910). He named the agent of typhus Rickettsia prowazeki after Ricketts and his diseased friend.

He later described another louse-transmitted infectious agent, Rickettsia quintana,(later Rochalimea quintana, now Bartonella quintana), the causative agent of Trench fever. In 1905 an epidemic fever was named “lesão Rocha Lima”. The parasitic nematode name Terranova rochalimai (Pereira, 1935) is also named in his honour.

Back in Brazil, Rocha Lima worked in São Paulo. He was a great scientific and educational leader, having participated in the foundation of the Paulista School of Medicine, and of the University of São Paulo.

Rocha Lima was also a president of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science. He received many awards and distinctions, such as the Iron Cross of the German Empire, the Benemerence Medal by Pope Pius XI, the Nocht Medal for distinguished researchers on Tropical Diseases, and the effective membership of the German Academy of Natural Sciences.


  • Beobachtungen bei Flecktyphusläusen.
    Archiv für Schiffs- und Tropenhygiene unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Pathologie und Therapie, 1916, 20: 17-31.
  • Zur Aetiologie des Fleckfiebers.
    Berliner klinische Wochenschrift, 1916, 53: 567-569.
    Rickettsia prowazeki, cause of typhus, was first isolated by da Rocha-Lima, who named it after Ricketts and Prowazek, both of whom died of the disease.
  • Über die Ätiologie des Fleckfiebers.
    Berliner Klinik. Berlin, 1919, 29 Jahrgang, Heft 325.
  • Methoden zur Untersuchung von Läusen als Infektionsträger.
    With Hilda Sikora (1889-1974). Handbuch der biologische Arbeitsmethoden, Abteilung 12, T. 1. Berlin and Vienna, 1926.
  • Venerisches Granulom. With Martin Mayer (1875-1951).
    Handbuch der Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten, volume 21, Berlin 1927.
  • Verruga peruviana. Oroyafieber. Handbuch der pathologischen Mikroorganismen. 3, Abteilung, Band 8, 2. Jena, Berlin and Vienna, 1930.
  • Rickettsien. Handbuch der pathologischen Mikroorganismen. 3, Abteilung, Band 8, 2. Jena, Berlin and Vienna, 1930.
  • Verruga peruviana oder Carrionsche Krankheit.
    Handbuch der Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten, Band 12, 1. Berlin, 1932.
  • Exotische Blastomykosen.
    Handbuch der Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten, Band 12, 1. Berlin, 1932.
  • Protozoen und Haut. With Martin Mayer.
    In: Handbuch der Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten, Band 2, Berlin 1932.
  • Methoden der Virusforschung. Berlin : Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1939. 384 pages.
    Also as Lieferung 480, Abteilung XII, T. 2 of Emil Aberhalden's Handbuch der biologischen Arbeitsmethoden.
  • Methoden zur Untersuchung von Läusen als Infektionsträger. With Hilda Sikora.
    Handbuch der biologischen Arbeitsmethoden, 1925, 12 (4): 769-814.
  • Rickettsia prowazeki- sua descoberta e caracterização constituindo um novo grupo de microrganismos.
    Revista Brasileira de Medicina, 1951, 8 (5): 311-320.
  • S. von Prowazek:
    Ätiologische Untersuchungen über den Flecktyphus in Serbein in 1913 und in Hamburg 1914. Beiträge zur Klinik der Infektionskrankheiten und zur Immunitatsforschung, 1915, 4: 5-31.
  • C. Pereira:
    Os Oxyurata parasitos de Lacertilia do Nordeste Brasileiro. Archivos do Instituto Biológico. Secretaria da Agricultura de São Paulo, 1935, 6: 5-27.
    Pereira named a parasitic nematod Terranova rochalimai in honour of Rocha Lima. Biographical etc:
  • Edgard de Cerqueira Falcão:
    [Henrique da Rocha Lima and the discovery of Rickettsia prowazeki]
    Revista do Instituto de Medicina Tropical de Sao Paulo, March/April 1966, 8 (2): 55-59.
  • E. de Cerqueira Falcão, Otto G. Bier:
    Estudos sobre o Tifo Exantemático.
    1966 – Biblioteca de Manguinhos – Fundação Instituto Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ)
  • F. Weyer:
    [On the history of the discovery of the agent of spotted fever] [German]
    Zeitschrift für Tropenmedizin und Parasitologie, Stuttgart, December 1966, 17(4):478-83.
  • E. de Cerqueira Falcão:
    A Vida Científica de Henrique da Rocha Lima. [Article in Portuguese]
    [The scientific life of Henrique Da Rocha Lima] Revista brasileira de malariologia e doencas tropicais, Rio de Janeiro, April/June 1967, 19 (2): 353-458.
  • Otto G. Bier:
    Henrique da Rocha Lima:descobridor das rickettsias e da etiologia do tifo exantemático.
    Ciência e Cultura (SBPC), 1979, 31 (10): 1103-1106.
  • W. Sackmann:
    [Typhus and typhus research at the time of the 1st World War. In memory of Henrique da Rocha Lima] Article in German.
    Gesnerus, Aarau, Switzerland, 1980, 37 (1-2): 113-132.

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