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Musing on the might of a Microscopic Cell – Rudolf Virchow
Rudolf Virchow (1821 to 1902), German scientist Pathologist was born in 1821.
Vegetable cell was discovered by Schleiden and animal cell by Schwann. Virchow adopted these discoveries to his study of human anatomy and pathology.
In 1843 Rudolf Virchow graduated from medical college and became a professor in a Berlin Hospital. In 1849-1856 he was professor of pathological anatomy in Bavaria.
In view of Rudolf Virchow’s brilliant work and publications, he was recalled to Berlin in 1856 where he remained as Professor of Pathology until his death in 1902.
In 1858 Rudolf Virchow published his book on Cellular Pathology.
Scientist Rudolf Virchow evolved a new sewerage system for Berlin which won accolades for him world-wide.
In inflammations and other pathological conditions, it is the cell that bears the brunt. Thus Virchow struck his note at the grass-root level.
Scientist Rudolf Virchow formulated the idea that phlebitis (inflammation of blood vessels) would ‘trigger formation of small thrombi which could be carried in the circulation to distant parts of the body.
The same migration of the cells of tumours could explain the metastases of malignant growths/tumours.
The formation of tubercles in tuberculosis postulated by Virchow, even before the discovery of the tubercle bacilli by Koch, could be attributed to dissemination of cells.
Though the process of TB is not as deadly as cancer, yet the postulation of the resemblance to cancerous cell embolization is not out of place, in the context of the explanation about the spread of TB in the body.
Perhaps, TB could well be ranked as a stage in between chronic inflammation and malignancy.
In 1897, at his age of 76, Virchow communicated to the Medical Congress in Moscow his theory of the ‘continuity of life’.
Any disease or new growth could occur only as an offshoot activity of a previous cell.
He endorsed the theory of Charles Darwin which also appealed about the continuity of the life of the cell.
Scientist Rudolf Virchow proved that microscopy is the only means of describing the details of a cell.
Just before his death in 1902, a Municipal Hospital was named after him.Virchow led a life of virtue.