- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Peter Emil Becker

Born  1908
Died  2000

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German human geneticist, born November 23, 1908, Hamburg; died 2000.

Biography of Peter Emil Becker

Peter Emil Becker graduated in medicine in 1933. Following specialist training in neurology and psychiatry in Hamburg and Freiburg, he worked from 1936 to 1938 as an assistant at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Anthropologie und Eugenik (Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Genetics and Eugenics) with professor Eugen Fischer (1874-). Here he was influenced by Fritz Lenz (1887-) in developing his scientific approach. In 1937 he married Rosett Wendal and the couple had 5 children.

In 1942 Becker was drafted to the Luftwaffe as a physician, and after the war practiced neurology in Tuttlingen. In 1943 he worked at the psychiatric and neurological clinic at the University of Freiburg with professor Kay Berringer and from 1946 to 1957 lectured at the same clinic and university, until he was appointed professor of human genetics at the University of Göttingen. He held this position for the next 18 years. During this period he edited Handbook of Human Genetics and was co-editor of the journal Humangenetik (Berlin).

Becker is remembered for his investigations of muscular dystrophies and in the early years of his career he concerned himself with population studies and syndromic delineations of various forms of limb girdle and Duchenne's dystrophy. In the post war period he discovered the X-linked type of muscular dystrophy now bearing his name. Thereafter he investigated a large series of persons with non-dystrophic myotonia and described several new entities. Becker retired, with emeritus status, in 1975.

We thank Søren Nørby and Eskild Colding-Jørgensen for information submitted.


  • Neue Ergebnisse der Genetik der Muskeldystrophien.
    Acta genetica et statistica medica, 1957, 7: 303-310. Becker published:
  • Humangenetik. Ein kurzes Handbuch in 5 Bänden.
    Stuttgart, G. Thieme, 1964-1972. 5350 pages in total. Biographical:
  • Living History Biography.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics, New York, 1985, 20: 695-697.
    Autobiography with an account of his investigations.
  • Friedrich Vogel:
    Introduction to PE Becker's Living History - Biography.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics, New York, 1985, 20: 695-697.
We thank Rudolf Kleinert, Bad Reichanhall, Germany, for information submitted.

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