Karl Aschoff

Karl Albert Ludwig Aschoff


Born: 10 January 1866, Berlin, Germany

Died: 24 June 1942, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

Academic Degrees

  • Undergrad studies: Bonn, Strassburg and Gottingen
  • MD: University of Bonn 1889

Academic Positions

  • 1894 - 1903 1st Assistant, Institute of Pathology in Gottingen
  • 1903 - 1906 Professor of Pathology at Marburg
  • 1906 - 1936 Professor, Freiburg im Breisgau

Selected Career Highlights

  • Trained by Orth and Recklinghausen, one of the most productive of the group of German pathologists who flourished in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

  • At Freiburg established an Institute of Pathology that attracted students from all over the world.

  • "The leading spirit of recent pathology" (written by Fielding H. Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine, 1929). A great systematist and philosopher he strove to bring order and system into the bewildering complex of pathology through his work on pyelonephritis, appendicitis, thrombosis, atherosclerosis, phthisis, ovulation/menstruation, cholesterol gallstones, gastric ulcer, goiter, and fatty degenerations.

  • Wrote classical histologic description of rheumatic conditions (heart disease, the so-called Aschoff body).

  • Recognized the phagocytic activity of certain cells found in diverse tissues and named them the reticuloendothelial system (1924).

  • Wrote about the history of medicine/pathology including the evidence of the association of mice with the plague in various forms of the Bible (Septuagint vs. Vulgate) and old documents (including Sanskrit documents).

  • Wrote about Bright's disease and points out that while Bright included all nephritides in his clinical category, the essential Bright nephritis is glomerular, with secondary contraction of the kidney, toxic and inflammatory albuminuria and renal dropsy without hypertension.

  • Special treatise (1901) that covers all of pathology in general; went through many editions and was used as a standard text for many years.

  • Recent advances in anatomy turn almost entirely upon collateral investigations in physiology and pathology, with sometimes new wrinkles in diagnosis and therapeutics such as the

  • Aschoff-Maximow map of the reticulo-endothelial system (1913-1924). Aschoff regarded the histiocyte (macrophages) as a scavenger, a major coefficient in the formation of granulation tissue and an agent in immunity.

  • Classified disease-reactions, functional (recreative reaction), deficiency (regenerative reaction), destructive (reparatory reaction), infective (defensive reaction, i.e., inflammation).

  • Set the pace and posed the problems for German pathological work on war material.

  • Publisher of Beitrage zur pathologischen Anatomie und zur allgemeinen Pathologie and Veroffentlichungen aus der (Kriegs-), Gewerbe un Konstitutionspathologie.

  • Several things named after him: Aschoff cells, Aschoff 's organ, Aschoff-Geipel bodies, Rokitansky-Aschoff sinuses.


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