Sunday, September 11, 2011

Domagk, Gerhard (1895 – 1964)

Gerhard Johannes Paul Domagk German bacteriologist awarded the 1939 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of antibacterial effects of Prontosil, the first sulphonamide drug.

Born the son of a teacher in October 30, 1895, in Lagow in Germany’s province of Brandenburg, which was then part of Germany, is now in Poland. Domagk decided early in life to become a physician.

His medical studies at the University of Kiel were interrupted by his service as a grenadier and medical corpsman in World War I.

After postgraduate work at the universities of Greifswald (1924) and Munster (1925) he become director of the Bayer Laboratory for Experimental Pathology and Bacteriology at Wuppertal-Elberfeld and in 1928 was made professor of medicine at the University of Muster.

Gerhard Domagk responded to his wartime experience to powerlessness as a physician to treat the wounded for bacterial infections by conducting research on antibacterial agents.

At the Bayer works he searched systematically for new dyes and drugs that might destroy infecting organisms without harming the patient.

His first major success was the discovery of germanin, which was the most effective drug against sleeping sickness. His prize- winning work was the discovery that the dye Prontosil was effective against streptococcal bacterial in mice.

The active part of the dye was the sulphonamide group and modifications led to the development of drugs drastically reduced the mortality of pneumonia, puerperal sepsis, and cerebrospinal fever.

In addition to his work on Prontosil, Domagk searched for drugs to treat other diseases, most notably tuberculosis and cancer. He found some drugs that were used as treatments for tuberculosis and cancer.

Domagk was prevented from accepting the prize because of Nazi German policy, but in 1947, after the Second World War, he was awarded the gold medal and diploma.

He also won other awards, including the Emil Fischer Memorial Plaque of the German Chemical Society (1937), the Cameron Prize of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (1938) and the Paul Ehrlich Prize of the University of Frankfurt in 1956.

His achievement had since been eclipsed by the discovery of penicillin and other more potent antibiotics.

He died in Burgberg, West Germany, on April 24, 1964.
Domagk, Gerhard (1895 – 1964)

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