Theodor Schwann (1810-1882) studied with Johannes Muller in Berlin before moving in 1839 to the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, as Professor of Anatomy. Contemporaneously with M.J. Schleiden’s work at Jena (1804-1881) on plant structure and tissues, Schwann demonstrated the cellular basis of the human and animal body, which led to his Cell Theory, which states that all plant and animal bodies are fundamentally composed of cells and their products. Schwann’s work greatly aided the emergence of pathology, histology, and bacteriology.

The complementary works of Schwann and Schleiden stood in much the same relationship to each other as did those of Darwin and A.R. Wallace two decades later.


Schwann, Theodor. Microscopical Researches into Accordance in the Structure and Growth of Animals and Plants, 1839. English edn by Henry Smith, London: Sydenham Society 1847. EBook available.

Last modified 12 December 2016