Edwin Klebs (1834-1913), a German-born physician and pathologist, studied at Wurzburg with Virchow in 1855, qualified at Konigsberg he following year, and then worked as assistant to Virchow in Berlin 1861-66, after which he received the appointment as Professor of Pathology, Bern, Switzerland in 1866. He served as medic in the Prussian Army 1870, and afterwards in posts at Wurzburg, Prague, and then Zurich (1882-92).

Like Koch — though more controversially — Klebs identified his own four "Grundversuche" or basic rules for procedure. His third, that all diseases are caused only by bacteria, was clearly a risky and now disproven hypothesis. Whilst often credited with the discovery of the causative agent of diphtheria, then called "Klebs-Loeffler bacterium", it is worth noting his absence from the account given by CF: 311-17, in a section entitled "XVII. Diphtheria Bacillus (Loffler),” which grants priority to careful studies by Loeffler and mentions a host of confirmatory studies, including those by Escherich, Roux and Yersin, stating that "we regard Loffler's bacilli beyond doubt as the exciter of human diphtheria (312). More recently the unusual bacillus is known as Corynebacterium diphtheria, with accurate identification employing the stain of Gram.


Last modified 3 December 2016