Emil von Behring (1854-1917)

Emil Adolf Behring was born on March 15, 1854 at Hansdorf, Deutsch-Eylau (today Poland).
1878 Medical degree. He was then sent to Posen in Poland to the Chemical Department of the Experimental Station.
1881-1883 he carried out important investigations on the action of iodoform, stating that it does not kill microbes but may neutralize the poisons given off by them, thus being antitoxic.
1893 The title of Professor was conferred upon him. Behring's most important researches were intimately bound up with the epoch-making work of Pasteur, Koch, Ehrlich, Löffler, Roux, Yersin and others, which laid the foundation of our modern knowledge of the immunology of bacterial diseases; but he is, himself, chiefly remembered for his work on diphtheria and on tuberculosis.

In 1890 Behring and S. Kitasato published their discovery that graduated doses of sterilised brothcultures of diphtheria or of tetanus bacilli caused the animals to produce, in their blood, substances which could neutralize the toxins which these bacilli produced (antitoxins). They also showed that the antitoxins thus produced by one animal could immunize another animal and that it could cure an animal actually showing symptoms of diphtheria. This great discovery was soon confirmed and successfully used by other workers.
Behring himself saw in his production of this toxin-antitoxin mixture the possibility of the final eradication of diphtheria; and he regarded this part of his efforts as the crowning success of his life's work.
From 1901 onwards Behring's health prevented him from giving regular lectures and he devoted himself chiefly to the study of tuberculosis. The Behringwerke were sponsored for the manufacture of sera and vaccines and for experimental work on these.
In 1901, the year of his Nobel Prize, he was raised to the nobility.

Behring died at Marburg on March 31, 1917.