Wassermann, August von

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Wassermann, August von

(wŏs`ərmən, Ger. ou`go͝ost fən väs`ərmän), 1866–1925, German physician and bacteriologist. In Berlin he was director of the department of experimental therapy and serum research (1906–13) at Koch Institute and director of experimental therapy (from 1913) at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. In addition to developing inoculations against cholera, typhoid, and tetanus, he devised the Wassermann test (1906), used in the diagnosis of syphilis. A positive reaction when the blood or spinal fluid of the patient is tested indicates the presence of antibodies formed as a result of infection with syphilis (even though symptoms of the disease may not be observable at the time). A few other diseases, however (such as leprosy), also sometimes produce a positive Wassermann reaction.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wassermann, August Von


Born Feb. 21, 1866, in Bamberg; died Mar. 16, 1925, in Berlin. German microbiologist and immunologist. Studied in Strasbourg, Vienna, and Berlin.

From 1902, Wassermann was a professor at the R. Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases and, beginning in 1913, director of the Institute for Experimental Therapy in Berlin. His major investigations dealt with the study of the change in the blood serum of patients during the process of developing immunity to cholera, typhus, and diphtheria. In 1906 (in collaboration with A. Neisser and K. Brun) he devised a method for diagnosing syphilis—the Wassermann test. He established (1901) immunological specificity of the proteins of various animals and worked on the perfecting of the serodiagnosis of tuberculosis, tumors, and so on.


Finkel’shtein, Iu. A. “Professor A. Wasserman.” Venerologiia i dermatologiia, 1935, no. 2.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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