Robert Koch (1843-1910) was a German physician, scientist, and the first person to prove that bacterium is the cause of animal disease. Robert Koch was born on December 11, 1843, at Clausthal in the Upper Harz Mountains in the northwestern region of Germany. Dr. Koch died on the 27th of May 1910 of a heart attack in Baden-Baden at 66.
He has given the famous Koch’s postulates. Robert Koch is credited with founding medical microbiology and is known as the ‘Father of Clinical Microbiology.’
Robert Koch and his discoveries
He worked on Anthrax and, in 1877, discovered typical Bacilli (Bacillus anthracis) with squarish ends in the blood of cattle that had died of anthrax.
Other bacteria discovered by Robert Koch are Mycobacterium tuberculosis (1882), Vibrio cholerae (1883), Staphylococcus (1878). To honor the day Koch first presented his findings on the etiology of tuberculosis, World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 24th February as “World Tuberculosis Day.”
He also developed a technique for isolating bacteria on a culture plate. Robert Koch was the first person to grow bacteria on solid culture media. He employed gelatin as a solidifying agent.
When the news of Koch’s discovery spread rapidly from Germany to England and the USA (via The Times, and The New York Times), Robert Koch became a famous scientist. He is well known as “The Father of Bacteriology.”
In 1905, Koch was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, which was awarded for investigations and discoveries concerning the disease tuberculosis, “TB.”
Koch’s postulate provided guidelines for identifying the causative agent of an infectious disease.
Koch’s postulates are
- A specific organism can always be found in association with a given disease.
- The organism can be isolated and grown in pure culture in the laboratory
- The pure culture will produce the disease when inoculated into a susceptible animal.
- It is possible to recover the organism in pure culture from the experimentally infected animal.
References and further readings
- Lakhtakia R. The Legacy of Robert Koch: Surmise, search, substantiate. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2014 Feb;14(1):e37-41. doi: 10.12816/0003334. Epub 2014 Jan 27. PMID: 24516751; PMCID: PMC3916274.