Biography of Richard Pfeiffer (1858-1945)

Medical German bacteriologist, born in Zduny in the year 1858 and died at Bad Landeck (present Poland) in 1945. In 1894 he/she described the phenomenon of bacteriolysis, which had great importance to facilitate the diagnosis of cholera. His name has been linked to Bacillus discovered in 1892, agent causal of the flu. Pfeiffer also discovered endotoxins (see toxin) and created, with Kolle, methods for immunisation against typhoid fever and the plague.

He studied medicine between 1875 and 1880 at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Institute in Berlin. Upon graduating was named military Assistant physician, reason by which served in the army until 1889, as a bacteriologist. In 1887 he/she was awarded the post of tenured physician, and from 1888, became a part of the team of assistants of Robert Koch in the Institute of hygiene in Berlin. In 1894 he/she got the license to teach at the University level, and soon offered him various professorships at German universities. In 1899, he/she accepted a Chair of hygiene at the Faculty of medicine at the University of Königsberg, where he/she remained until 1909. He/She then moved to Breslau, at whose University he/she taught between 1909 and 1926.

His studies on coccidia (Protozoan parasites) of rabbits led him to discover the oviform Coccidium species and a new capping Bacillus. Later and from the development of a series of explorations of a medical nature about cholera and coliform bacteria, it would focus its research in the field of immunization. Their work enabled a better understanding of the bases of immunology. Pfeiffer described accurately various infectious diseases.

In 1892 he/she made his most important discovery, to describe the Bacillus that bears his name. Pfeiffer said that this Bacillus was one of the causal agents of the flu, since his appearance influenced the course of the disease. The Pfeiffer Bacillus is a coccobacillus isolated or gathered in chains, which generally infects white blood cells. Their virulence is favored by the action of certain microbes (streptococci, staphylococci, pneumococci) priogenos. Likewise, in 1892 Pfeiffer predicted, without being able to prove it, a phase of the life cycle of the malaria parasite was taking place outside the human body.

Between 1892 and 1895 there was a cholera epidemic in Germany. During those years, Pfeiffer worked in the inspection service of potable water and currents. In 1894 he/she described the agents that cause the bacteriolysis (or Pfeiffer phenomena) and carried out studies on its action against vibrio cholera, in addition to describing your cronolabilidad and your thermolabile (alteration by the action of heat). He/She made these discoveries together with Isaieff, to study the phenomena of immobilization and dissolution of wrathful vibrios in the peritoneum of immunized animals. Both proved such phenomenon was not produced in healthy guinea pigs were injected that immunized serum that appeared when running serum was injected into the peritoneal cavity of a healthy animal.

The conclusions reached both scientists were of great importance to the development of immunological science. Pfeiffer established a system for the evaluation of Sera, in accordance with the technique that was used in their research. But the application of this technique entailed many difficulties by different virulence and toxicity of wrathful microbes. (See immune serum).

The success of their research enabled him to obtain increased funding to develop new studies. In 1896 described the species Micrococcus catarrhalis. That same year, and in order to improve the knowledge of some of the most virulent infectious diseases existing at the time, moved to different countries to observe the development of these. In 1897 he/she joined the German expedition that studied plague in the India, and a year later went, along with Koch, to Italy to study malaria.

Throughout his life he/she published numerous studies on immunology and bacteriology. One of his most important works is Mycrophotographysche Atlas der Bakterienkunde (1895), written in collaboration with Frankel. Gaffky, Sticker and Dieudonné published Bericht über die Tätigkeit der zur Esforschung der Pest 1897 nach Indien entsaudten Komision (1899). Together with Proskauer published an Enciclopedie der Hygiene (1902). In 1919 it appeared that perhaps is his main work, Lehrbuch der Mikrobiologie (1919).