Robert Koch's Medical Bacteriology
In the nineteenth century, the new field of medical bacteriology identified microorganisms and explained how they spread disease. This book interweaves the history of this discipline and the biography of one of its founders, Nobel Prize–winning German physician Robert Koch (1843–1910).
Koch contributed to modern medicine by inventing or improving fundamental techniques such as bacterial staining, solid culture media, mass pure cultures, and the use of animal models. His discoveries, which dominated medical science at the turn of the last century, are epitomized in a set of rules named after him. "Koch's Postulates" are still invoked today in attempts to prove the causal involvement of pathogens in infectious diseases.
In a double history, Christoph Gradmann narrates the development of a discipline and the biography of a scientist. Drawing on Koch's extensive laboratory notes, Gradmann details how Koch developed his scientific method and discovered the bacterial causes of anthrax, tuberculosis, and cholera. Koch tried to bring this knowledge to clinical medicine by developing medicines that would specifically target the bacterial pathogens he identified. And Koch’s passion for personal travel developed into a career signature, as he became a pioneer in the study of tropical diseases.
A fascinating look into Koch's personality and his experimental work in medical bacteriology, Laboratory Disease reveals both the biographical and the historical roots of our modern understanding of infectious diseases.
About the Authors
Christoph Gradmann is a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Oslo.
Never before have we been able to consult a reference text on the school of German bacteriology and the man Koch. This book is a real eye-opener. Its scholarship is brilliant, and the merits of the ‘new’ history of science as a cultural process are demonstrated to a stupendous standard.
An important resource for researchers on Koch and the German medicine of his times.
For those interested in visualization; in laboratory practices and their epistemological implications; and in the history of bacteriology, microbiology, medicine and biology in general, this is an important book.
This important book... should become an essential tool for any historian of nineteenth-century medicine and any medical doctor interested in the cultural roots of his/her profession.
This excellent translation is a very welcome addition to the histories of medical science, infectious diseases, and, of course, bacteriology. The narrative is innovative in making extensive use of Koch's laboratory notes, giving detailed attention to the materials and performative aspects of practice and to the construction and representation of knowledge claims.
A science historian examines the origins of the field of medical bacteriology and the life of one of its founders.
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