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The Most Famous

PHYSICIANS from Germany

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This page contains a list of the greatest German Physicians. The pantheon dataset contains 502 Physicians, 90 of which were born in Germany. This makes Germany the birth place of the most number of Physicians.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary German Physicians of all time. This list of famous German Physicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of German Physicians.

Photo of Robert Koch

1. Robert Koch (1843 - 1910)

With an HPI of 80.51, Robert Koch is the most famous German Physician.  His biography has been translated into 110 different languages on wikipedia.

Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch (English: KOKH, German: [ˈʁoːbɛʁt ˈkɔx] (listen); 11 December 1843 – 27 May 1910) was a German physician and microbiologist. As the discoverer of the specific causative agents of deadly infectious diseases including tuberculosis, cholera (though the bacterium itself was discovered by Filippo Pacini in 1854), and anthrax, he is regarded as one of the main founders of modern bacteriology. As such he is popularly nicknamed the father of microbiology (with Louis Pasteur), and as the father of medical bacteriology. His discovery of the anthrax bacterium (Bacillus anthracis) in 1876 is considered as the birth of modern bacteriology. His discoveries directly provided proofs for the germ theory of diseases, and the scientific basis of public health.While working as a private physician, Koch developed many innovative techniques in microbiology. He was the first to use the oil immersion lens, condenser, and microphotography in microscopy. His invention of the bacterial culture method using agar and glass plates (later developed as the Petri dish by his assistant Julius Richard Petri) made him the first to grow bacteria in the laboratory. In appreciation of his work, he was appointed to government advisor at the Imperial Health Office in 1880, promoted to a senior executive position (Geheimer Regierungsrat) in 1882, Director of Hygienic Institute and Chair (Professor of hygiene) of the Faculty of Medicine at Berlin University in 1885, and the Royal Prussian Institute for Infectious Diseases (later renamed Robert Koch Institute after his death) in 1891. The methods Koch used in bacteriology led to establishment of a medical concept known as Koch's postulates, four generalized medical principles to ascertain the relationship of pathogens with specific diseases. The concept is still in use in most situations and influences subsequent epidemiological principles such as the Bradford Hill criteria. A major controversy followed when Koch discovered tuberculin as a medication for tuberculosis which was proven to be ineffective, but developed for diagnosis of tuberculosis after his death. For his research on tuberculosis, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1905. The day he announced the discovery of the tuberculosis bacterium, 24 March, has been observed by the World Health Organization as "World Tuberculosis Day" every year since 1982.

Photo of Josef Mengele

2. Josef Mengele (1911 - 1979)

With an HPI of 80.38, Josef Mengele is the 2nd most famous German Physician.  His biography has been translated into 64 different languages.

Josef Rudolf Mengele ([ˈjoːzɛf ˈmɛŋələ] (listen); 16 March 1911 – 7 February 1979), also known as the Angel of Death (German: Todesengel), was a German Schutzstaffel (SS) officer and physician during World War II. He is mainly remembered for his actions at the Auschwitz II (Birkenau) concentration camp, where he performed deadly experiments on prisoners, was a member of the team of doctors who selected victims to be killed in the gas chambers, and was one of the doctors who administered the gas. With Red Army troops sweeping through German-occupied Poland, Mengele was transferred 280 kilometres (170 mi) from Auschwitz to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp on 17 January 1945, ten days before the arrival of the Soviet forces at Auschwitz. Before the war, Mengele received doctorates in anthropology and medicine, and began a career as a researcher. He joined the Nazi Party in 1937 and the SS in 1938. He was assigned as a battalion medical officer at the start of World War II, then transferred to the Nazi concentration camps service in early 1943 and assigned to Auschwitz, where he saw the opportunity to conduct genetic research on human subjects. His experiments focused primarily on twins, with no regard for the health or safety of the victims.After the war, Mengele fled to Argentina in July 1949, assisted by a network of former SS members. He initially lived in and around Buenos Aires, then fled to Paraguay in 1959 and Brazil in 1960, all the while being sought by West Germany, Israel, and Nazi hunters such as Simon Wiesenthal, who wanted to bring him to trial. Mengele eluded capture in spite of extradition requests by the West German government and clandestine operations by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. He drowned in 1979 after suffering a stroke while swimming off the coast of Bertioga, and was buried under the false name of Wolfgang Gerhard. His remains were disinterred and positively identified by forensic examination in 1985.

Photo of Alois Alzheimer

3. Alois Alzheimer (1864 - 1915)

With an HPI of 72.56, Alois Alzheimer is the 3rd most famous German Physician.  His biography has been translated into 57 different languages.

Alois Alzheimer ( ALTS-hy-mər, US also AHLTS-, AWLTS-, German: [ˈaːlɔɪs ˈʔaltshaɪmɐ]; 14 June 1864 – 19 December 1915) was a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist and a colleague of Emil Kraepelin. Alzheimer is credited with identifying the first published case of "presenile dementia", which Kraepelin would later identify as Alzheimer's disease.

Photo of Georgius Agricola

4. Georgius Agricola (1494 - 1555)

With an HPI of 69.45, Georgius Agricola is the 4th most famous German Physician.  His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.

Georgius Agricola (; born Georg Pawer or Georg Bauer; 24 March 1494 – 21 November 1555) was a German Humanist scholar, mineralogist and metallurgist. Born in the small town of Glauchau, in the Electorate of Saxony of the Holy Roman Empire, he was broadly educated, but took a particular interest in the mining and refining of metals. For his groundbreaking work De Natura Fossilium published in 1546, he is generally referred to as the Father of Mineralogy.He is well known for his pioneering work De re metallica libri XII, that was published in 1556, one year after his death. This 12-volume work is a comprehensive and systematic study, classification and methodical guide on all available factual and practical aspects, that are of concern for mining, the mining sciences and metallurgy, investigated and researched in its natural environment by means of direct observation. Unrivalled in its complexity and accuracy, it served as the standard reference work for two centuries. Agricola stated in the preface, that he will exclude all those things which I have not myself seen, or have not read or heard of.[...].That which I have neither seen, nor carefully considered after reading or hearing of, I have not written about.As a scholar of the Renaissance he was committed to a universal approach towards learning and research. He published over 40 complete scholarly works during his professional life on a wide range of subjects and disciplines, such as pedagogy, medicine, metrology, mercantilism, pharmacy, philosophy, geology, history, and many more. His innovative and comprehensive scholarly work, based on new and precise methods of production and control, has made his work a central part of scholarship and understanding of science during that period.

Photo of Samuel Hahnemann

5. Samuel Hahnemann (1755 - 1843)

With an HPI of 68.96, Samuel Hahnemann is the 5th most famous German Physician.  His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.

Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (German: [ˈhaːnəman]; 10 April 1755 – 2 July 1843) was a German physician, best known for creating the pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine called homeopathy.

Photo of Emil Kraepelin

6. Emil Kraepelin (1856 - 1926)

With an HPI of 68.47, Emil Kraepelin is the 6th most famous German Physician.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Emil Wilhelm Georg Magnus Kraepelin (; German: [ˈeːmiːl 'kʁɛːpəliːn]; 15 February 1856 – 7 October 1926) was a German psychiatrist. H. J. Eysenck's Encyclopedia of Psychology identifies him as the founder of modern scientific psychiatry, psychopharmacology and psychiatric genetics. Kraepelin believed the chief origin of psychiatric disease to be biological and genetic malfunction. His theories dominated psychiatry at the start of the 20th century and, despite the later psychodynamic influence of Sigmund Freud and his disciples, enjoyed a revival at century's end. While he proclaimed his own high clinical standards of gathering information "by means of expert analysis of individual cases", he also drew on reported observations of officials not trained in psychiatry. His textbooks do not contain detailed case histories of individuals but mosaic-like compilations of typical statements and behaviors from patients with a specific diagnosis. He has been described as "a scientific manager" and "a political operator", who developed "a large-scale, clinically oriented, epidemiological research programme".

Photo of Otto Heinrich Warburg

7. Otto Heinrich Warburg (1883 - 1970)

With an HPI of 68.46, Otto Heinrich Warburg is the 7th most famous German Physician.  His biography has been translated into 58 different languages.

Otto Heinrich Warburg (German pronunciation: [ˈɔto ˈvaːɐ̯bʊʁk] (listen), ; 8 October 1883 – 1 August 1970), son of physicist Emil Warburg, was a German physiologist, medical doctor, and Nobel laureate. He served as an officer in the elite Uhlan (cavalry regiment) during the First World War, and was awarded the Iron Cross (1st Class) for bravery. He was the sole recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1931. In total, he was nominated for the award 47 times over the course of his career.

Photo of Franz Mesmer

8. Franz Mesmer (1734 - 1815)

With an HPI of 68.20, Franz Mesmer is the 8th most famous German Physician.  His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Franz Anton Mesmer (; German: [ˈmɛsmɐ]; 23 May 1734 – 5 March 1815) was a German physician with an interest in astronomy. He theorised the existence of a natural energy transference occurring between all animated and inanimate objects; this he called "animal magnetism", sometimes later referred to as mesmerism. Mesmer's theory attracted a wide following between about 1780 and 1850, and continued to have some influence until the end of the 19th century. In 1843, the Scottish doctor James Braid proposed the term "hypnotism" for a technique derived from animal magnetism; today the word "mesmerism" generally functions as a synonym of "hypnosis". Mesmer also supported the arts, specifically music; he was on friendly terms with Haydn and Mozart.

Photo of Gerhard Domagk

9. Gerhard Domagk (1895 - 1964)

With an HPI of 67.49, Gerhard Domagk is the 9th most famous German Physician.  His biography has been translated into 64 different languages.

Gerhard Johannes Paul Domagk (German pronunciation: [ˈɡeːɐ̯haʁt ˈdoːmak] (listen); 30 October 1895 – 24 April 1964) was a German pathologist and bacteriologist. He is credited with the discovery of sulfonamidochrysoidine (KL730) as an antibiotic for which he received the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The drug became the first commercially available antibiotic and marketed under the brand name Prontosil.While working in the pathology department of the University of Münster, Domagk was invited to join the IG Farben branch at Elberfeld (later Wuppertal) in 1927. His duty was to test chemical compounds prepared at the IG Farben laboratory for potential drugs. A novel compound synthesised by Friedrich Mietzsch and Joseph Klarer, a benzene derivative of azo dye attached with sulphonamide group as a side chain was found to have antibacterial activity against human bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes. In 1935, Domagk's only daughter, Hildegarde, injured herself and contracted a streptococcal infection. In a desperate attempt to save her daughter's arm from amputation and her life, Domagk used the new compound that eventually cured the infection. Given the brand name Prontosil, the new drug became the first antibiotic commercially available for bacterial infections. Domagk was chosen to receive the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for the discovery of the antibacterial effects of prontosil," but the Nazi Germany prohibited him from receiving the award. In 1947, after the fall of Nazi Germany, he was officially given the Nobel diploma and delivered the Nobel lecture.

Photo of Otto Fritz Meyerhof

10. Otto Fritz Meyerhof (1884 - 1951)

With an HPI of 65.87, Otto Fritz Meyerhof is the 10th most famous German Physician.  His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.

Otto Fritz Meyerhof (German pronunciation: [ˈɔto ˈmaɪ̯ɐˌhoːf] (listen); April 12, 1884 – October 6, 1951) was a German physician and biochemist who won the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

Pantheon has 90 people classified as physicians born between 1165 and 1967. Of these 90, 2 (2.22%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living physicians include Özlem Türeci and Karin Büttner-Janz. The most famous deceased physicians include Robert Koch, Josef Mengele, and Alois Alzheimer. As of April 2022, 14 new physicians have been added to Pantheon including Claus Schilling, Özlem Türeci, and Theodor Meynert.

Living Physicians

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Deceased Physicians

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Newly Added Physicians (2022)

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Which Physicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Physicians since 1700.