Did you know that Robert Heinrich Hermann Koch was born today in 1843? He was a physician and microbiologist. He is also known as the founder of bacteriology; bacteriology is the study of bacteria. Robert Koch conducted experiments that supported the idea of infection as the method for spreading disease. Previously, people thought that diseases were caused by ‘bad air’, imbalances in blood, or just suddenly appeared. Robert Koch was able to identify the bacteria that caused the diseases anthrax, cholera, and tuberculosis. In 1905 Robert Koch received the Nobel Prize for his research on tuberculosis.
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Robert Koch developed what are now known as Koch’s postulates, or requirements for identifying a bacteria as the cause of a disease or condition.
- The organism must always be present in all cases of the disease
- The organism must be isolated from a host infected with the disease and be grown in a pure culture
- The organism grown from the culture must cause the same disease when used to infect a healthy test animal
- The organism must be collected and isolated from the test animal, and then identified as the same organism that was collected from the original infected host
Robert Koch also improved laboratory technology and techniques used in microbiology. For example, he developed the technique of growing bacteria cultures in agar gelatin. He also developed the procedure for isolating and growing specific kinds of bacteria.
The Robert Koch Institute, a German agency responsible for disease control and prevention, was founded by Robert Koch in 1891 and in named after him in his honor.