Paul Uhlenhuth

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Paul Theodor Uhlenhuth (7 January 1870 in Hanover – 13 December 1957 in Freiburg im Breisgau) was a German bacteriologist and hygienist and an assistant professor at the Institute of Hygiene at the University of Greifswald. He is famous in the annals of forensic science for developing the species precipitin test which could distinguish human blood from animal blood.

Starting with the a significant discovery by Emil von Behring that animals inoculated with diphtheria toxin formed defensive substances in their blood serum. These defensive substances were named precipitins. Other scientists principally Jules Bordet tried devising serums against other infectious agents; They found that the precipitins were specific to the antagonist injected. In 1900, building off Bordet's work, Uhlenhuth injected hen's blood into rabbits, then he mixed serum from the rabbit with egg white. The egg proteins separated (precipitated) from the mixture. He was able to conclude that the blood of different species of animals contained unique proteins. These discoveries extended to being able to differentiate human blood from animal blood.

Fellow scientist, Otto Beumer, professor of forensic medicine at the University of Greifswald and the coroner of Greifswald learned of Uhlenhuth's work and joined him in perfecting the detection of human blood in dried bloodstains that were months or years old.[1]

His new technique was first used in the case of two murdered and dismembered children in the town of Göhren on the Baltic island of Rügen. The suspect in the case, Ludwig Tessnow claimed that the stains on his clothing were either cattle's blood or wood stain from a carpentry project. They were able to prove otherwise. Tessnow was executed for his crime in 1904.[2][3][4] In 1935 Wilhelm Pfannenstiel Professor of Hygiene at the University of Marburg nominated Uhlenhuth for the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in chemotherapy.[5] In 1915 Uhlenhoth was co-discoverer of Leptospira interrogans strain RGA a cause of Weil's disease a severe form of leptospirosis characterized by epistaxis, jaundice, chills, fever, muscle pain, and hepatomegaly, it was one of the many ailments to afflict soldiers involved in the trench warfare of World War I.[6]

In 1942 he was awarded the Emil von Behring prize,which is awarded every two years by the University of Marburg for outstanding achievements in immunology, serum therapy and chemotherapy. Uhlenhuth had multiple articles published in peer reviewed journals and was an active researcher in various areas of bacteriology and immunology including research into chemotherapy and syphilis.[7]Paul Ehrlich winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize in Medicine was an associate of Uhlenhuth.

Uhlenhuth's Bibliography[edit]

  • Das Biologische Verfahren Zur Erkennung Und Unterscheidung Von Menschen Und Tierblut (1905) by Paul Theodor Uhlenhuth Publisher: Kessinger Pub Co (November 2009) Language: German ISBN 1-120-44466-7 ISBN 978-1-120-44466-0
  • Uhlenhuth, P., and Mulzer, P.: Gelungene Verimpfung von Blut, Blut-serum und Sperma syphilitischer Menschen in die Hoden von Kaninchen. Berl. klin. Wchnschr., 49: 152, 1912.
  • Uhlenhuth, P., and Mulzer, P.: Wei te re Mitteilungen iiber die Infektiositat des Blutes und anderer Kôrper-flussigkeiten syphilitischer Menschen fiir
  • Handbuch der pathogenen Mikroorganismen. Herausgegeben von W. Kolle, R. Kraus und P. Uhlenhuth. Lieferung 41, Band VII: Weilische Krankheite. Von Prof. Dr. P. Uhlenhuth und Prof. Dr. W. Fromme. Die kurzfristigen Spirochätenfieber. Von Dr. G. Baermann. Geflügelspirochäte. Von Prof. Dr. G. Sobernheim. Die spontane Kaninchenspirochätose. Von Dr. W. Worms. Third edition. Paper. Price, 32 marks. pp. 487–752, with illustrations. Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1930


  1. ^ "Detection of Old Bloodstains May Aid Crime Fighters" Popular Mechanics, August 1937 -- article bottom right side of page 216
  2. ^ Chronicle of Murder By Brian Lane, pg 7
  3. ^ Forensic Nursing
  4. ^ The Devil's Dozen: How Cutting-Edge Forensics Took Down 12 Notorious Serial Killers Katherine Ramsland Publisher: Berkley Trade; 1 edition (April 7, 2009) Language: English ISBN 0-425-22603-4 ISBN 978-0-425-22603-2
  5. ^ The Nomination Database for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1901-1953 Noble Prize.Org
  6. ^ FIND THE CAUSE OF WELL'S DISEASE; Exigencies of War Lead Two German Physicians to Solve Problem of Infectious Jaundice. MAY HAVE A CURE FOR IT Its Germ Origin and Other Facts Were Discovered Only by Animal Experimentation.Article in N.Y. Times
  7. ^ Science journal:Nature