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Epidemiologists in Europe - important personages

Picture Placeholder: Anonymous
  • Anonymous
74/1/2019 4:24 PM


Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician who discovered, by 1847, that the incidence of puerperal fever ("childbed fever") could be drastically cut by use of hand washing standards in obstetrical clinics.

While employed as assistant to the professor of the maternity clinic at the Vienna General Hospital in Austria in 1847, Semmelweis introduced hand washing with chlorinated lime solutions for interns who had performed autopsies. This immediately reduced the incidence of fatal puerperal fever from about 10 percent (range 5–30 percent) to about 1–2 percent. At the time, diseases were attributed to many different and unrelated causes. Each case was considered unique, just like a human person is unique.
Semmelweis’ hypothesis, that there was only one cause, that all that mattered was cleanliness, was extreme at the time, and was largely ignored, rejected or ridiculed. He was dismissed from the hospital and harassed by the medical community in Vienna, which eventually forced him to move to Budapest.
Semmelweis was outraged by the indifference of the medical profession and began writing open and increasingly angry letters to prominent European obstetricians, at times denouncing them as irresponsible murderers. His contemporaries, including his wife, believed he was losing his mind and he was in 1865 committed to an asylum (mental institution). Semmelweis died there only 14 days later, possibly after being severely beaten by guards.
Semmelweis’ practice only earned widespread acceptance years after his death, when Louis Pasteur developed the germ theory of disease which offered a theoretical explanation for Semmelweis’ findings. Semmelweis is considered a pioneer of antiseptic procedures.
The Semmelweis reflex or “Semmelweis effect” is a metaphor for the reflex-like tendency to reject new evidence or new knowledge because it contradicts established norms, beliefs or paradigms.

(the text in this FEMWIKI forum is a literal copy of the biography of Semmelweis, please see the link in the reference below for more detailed background)


Biography Semmelweis 

Also worth watching: TedxTalk on hand hygiene, starting with Semmelweis' story:


Anonymous5/28/2015 8:59 AMNo
Picture Placeholder: Anonymous
  • Anonymous
54/1/2019 4:24 PM
Karel Raška (17 November 1909 – 21 November 1987) was a Czech physician and epidemiologist, who headed the successful international effort during the 1960s to eradicate smallpox.
He was a Director of the WHO Division of Communicable Disease Control since 1963. His new concept of eliminating the disease was adopted by the WHO in 1967 and eventually led to the eradication of smallpox in 1977.[1] Raška was also a strong promoter of the concept of disease surveillance, which was adopted in 1968 and has since become a standard practice in epidemiology.[2]
He is a recipient of the Edward Jenner Medal awarded by the Royal Society of Medicine.


  1. Karel Raska, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, accessed 12 December 2014
  2. "Karel Raška and Smallpox". Central European Journal of Public Health. March 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
  3. "Karel Raška — The Development of Modern Epidemiology. The role of the IEA.". Central European Journal of Public Health. March 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
  4. Karel Raska - 17 November. A tribute. Transmissible Briefs.
Anonymous4/12/2015 8:31 PMNo
Picture Placeholder: Natasa Antoljak
  • Natasa Antoljak
24/1/2019 4:24 PM

Outstanding infectious disease epidemiologist, founder and first head of the department of infectious diseases and epidemiology. Born March 26, (April 7) 1887. (Kiev), died February 28, 1937. (Tomsk). In 1919 GF Vogralik graduated from the Medical Faculty of the University of Tomsk. In January 1920, he was elected as junior assistant laboratory assistant clinic childhood diseases, combining this position with work in typhus-typhoid office of the District Military Hospital. Participated in the liquidation of epidemic typhus and relapsing fever in Tomsk. From that moment, his scientific activity was examination of the particular treatment of relapsing fever neosalvarsanom. He developed indications and contraindications to the use of this drug for this infection. Following scientific work, supervised by Professor PV Butyagina, Bacteriological Institute in Tomsk, was an experimental study on the treatment of sepsis.

In 1924. GF Vogralik successfully defended his thesis on "Gastro-intestinal digestion in infants" (1925). It was one of the first studies on the physiology of digestion child. After defending his thesis GF Vogralik was appointed senior assistant clinic of children's diseases, and in 1925 sent to Moscow and Leningrad for improvement in the area of ??infectious diseases. After specialization GF Vogralik appointed a lecturer, he was assigned to lectures on infectious diseases and the organization of the department of infectious diseases. From 1925 to 1937 - head. Department of Infectious Diseases. In Tomsk Medical Institute GF Vogralik read the course of infectious diseases, as well as the course "Clinical and laboratory diagnosis of infectious diseases, their specific immunoprophylaxis and therapy." In 1926 he organized a scientific student group. In 1928 GF Vogralik organizes clinic of infectious diseases. When clinic GF Vogralik creates a bacteriological laboratory, where residents under his supervision conducted microbiological tests required for patients. In 1930 GF Vogralik becoming one of the organizers of the health department at the Tomsk Medical Institute, and in 1931 - the dean of the faculty and head of the teaching and research of the Tomsk Medical Institute. At the same time GF Vogralik organized and the Department of Epidemiology, which he directed until his death. GF Vogralik always taught that infectious disease epidemiologist should be, and should be well versed epidemiologist at the clinic of infectious diseases.

This period was very fruitful for GF Vogralik in scientific terms, they are published at the time such important works as "Nosocomial infection and the response to them" (1930), "Treatment of typhoid typhoid bacilli lysates" (1930), a monograph "Diseases typhoid paratifoznoy-group" (1938 ), "Teaching about surveil. diseases: history of epidemics and general epidemiology" (1935) and others

In 1932 GF Vogralik was appointed director of the Tomsk Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology (1932 Bacteriological Institute, 1937 West Siberian Krai Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology), which put a lot of work and energy. In 1936 GF Vograliku was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medical Sciences and the title of professor without defending a thesis. Professor GF Vogralik educated and prepared its first employees, including - SP Karpov is a great scientist, professor, corresponding member of the Academy of Medical Sciences, honored worker of science; RN Gertsovsky, associate professor of Omsk Medical Institute; his disciples are also docent AM Tselishev and others.

With Soviet epidemiologists Zabolotny, Bashenin, Gromashevsky, Pavlovsky and others have developed several theories in epidemiology. These are the first and second laws of sources of infection and the teaching of epidemic process.

Natasa Antoljak6/18/2014 9:57 AMNo
Picture Placeholder: Arnold Bosman
  • Arnold Bosman
24/1/2019 4:24 PM

Hippocrates lived in an age where most people attributed diseases to supra-natural causes, yet in his book "on airs, people and places" he describes his ideas how environment and human behavior can cause disease. He noted that malaria and yellow fever occurred in areas of swamps and stagnant water. These places usually also smelled foul, so that the idea was formed that bad air or 'miasmata', had some influence on origins of these diseases. Later we understood the role of mosquitoes better, breeding very well in stagnant water, and as vectors transmitting the malaria parasites or the yellow fever virus from the blood of the patients to the blood of healthy people via their bites.

Anonymous6/10/2014 12:23 PMNo
Picture Placeholder: Edwin Chadwick
  • Edwin Chadwick
34/1/2019 4:24 PM

The Brittish medical doctor Chadwick was convinced that living conditions influenced the chance of disease and death and was a strong proponent of social reform to benefit public health. Fresh clean water, sewage and water closets were improvements that Chadwick had proposed. Some say that with the increasing popularity of water closets, the river Thames fast became the most polluted river in the country, as the sewage of millions ended up there. And the water companies were still taking their water from the same river as they had always done. The stage was set for a series of large cholera outbreaks in the capital.  

Arnold Bosman5/24/2014 6:39 PMNo
Picture Placeholder: John Snow MD
  • John Snow MD
14/1/2019 4:24 PM

On 15 of March 1813, John Snow was born in York, England; an English physician and a leader in the adoption of anaesthesia and medical hygiene. Snow is considered to be one of the fathers of Field Epidemiology, because of his work in tracing the source of a cholera outbreak in Soho, England, in 1854. His work brought compelling evidence to support the hypothesis that cholera was spread by water. He is considered the father of modern epidemiology among other things thanks to his innovative way to investigate an outbreak. His famous cohort study included the cohort of households that took water from the Lambeth water supply company and those that were served by the Southwark and Vauxhall company. Snow demonstrated that the attack rates of Cholera differed a lot between the two cohorts. 

In the second edition of his book on cholera, there is a spot map of cholera deaths in Soho included. This method was very likely inspired by the work of Dr Thomas Shapter in his description of cholera in Exeter, 1832, who included a map of cholera deaths in the city of Exeter. 

The wonderful book 'The Ghost Map' describes the quest of John Snow and his colleagues in a compelling way. 

John Snow MD5/18/2014 12:10 PMNo