Clemens von Pirquet

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Clemens von Pirquet
Clemens von Pirquet (1906)
Born(1874-05-12)12 May 1874
Hirschstetten near Vienna
Died28 February 1929(1929-02-28) (aged 54)
Cause of deathSuicide
Known fortuberculosis
Scientific career

Clemens Peter Freiherr[1] von Pirquet (12 May 1874 – 28 February 1929) was an Austrian scientist and pediatrician best known for his contributions to the fields of bacteriology and immunology.


Born in Vienna, he studied theology at the University of Innsbruck and philosophy at the University of Leuven before he enrolled at the University of Graz where he became a doctor of medicine in 1900. He started practicing at the Children's Clinic in Vienna.

In 1906 he noticed that patients who had previously received injections of horse serum or smallpox vaccine had quicker, more severe reactions to a second injection. He, along with Béla Schick, coined the word allergy (from the Greek allos meaning "other" and ergon meaning "work") to describe this hypersensitivity reaction.

Soon after, the observation with smallpox led Pirquet to realize that tuberculin, which Robert Koch isolated from the bacteria that cause tuberculosis in 1890, might lead to a similar type of reaction. Charles Mantoux expanded upon Pirquet's ideas and the Mantoux test, in which tuberculin is injected into the skin, became a diagnostic test for tuberculosis in 1907.

In 1909 he declined proposals to take a position at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and to become a professor at the Johns Hopkins University. In 1910 he returned to Europe taking positions in Breslau (now Wrocław) and then Vienna.


On 28 February 1929 Clemens von Pirquet and his wife committed suicide with potassium cyanide.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a former title (translated as Baron). In Germany since 1919, it forms part of family names. The feminine forms are Freifrau and Freiin.
  2. ^ Thomas M. Daniel Pioneers of Medicine and Their Impact on Tuberculosis, Part 184

Further reading[edit]

  • Who Named It - Pirquet
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine – History of medicine
  • Arthur M. Silverstein, Clemens Freiherr von Pirquet: Explaining immune complex disease in 1906 (Nature – Immunology 1, p.453–455, 2000)
  • EAACI – Clemens von Pirquet FOUNDATION
  • Clemens von Pirquet, Allergie 1910
  • Huber, Benedikt (2006), "[100 years of allergy: Clemens von Pirquet--his concept of allergy and his basic understanding of the disease: 2: The Pirquet concept of allergy]" (PDF), Wien. Klin. Wochenschr. (published Dec 2006), 118 (23–24), pp. 718–27, doi:10.1007/s00508-006-0712-0, PMID 17186166
  • Huber, Benedikt (2006), "[100 years of allergy: Clemens von Pirquet - his idea of allergy and its immanent concept of disease]" (PDF), Wien. Klin. Wochenschr. (published Oct 2006), 118 (19–20), pp. 573–9, doi:10.1007/s00508-006-0701-3, PMID 17136331
  • Bergmann, K C (2006), "[Clemens Freiherr von Pirquet, developer of the concept of allergy]", MMW Fortschritte der Medizin (published Jul 20, 2006), 148 (29–30), pp. 24–5, 27, PMID 16910402
  • Bukantz, Samuel C (2002), "Clemens von Pirquet and the concept of allergie", J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. (published Apr 2002), 109 (4), pp. 724–6, doi:10.1067/mai.2002.123049, PMID 11980437
  • Slavin, R G (1982), "The 10th annual Clemens von Pirquet lectureship. Clinical disorders of the nose and their relationship to allergy", Annals of Allergy (published Sep 1982), 49 (3), pp. 123–6, PMID 7051906
  • Bendiner, E (1981), "Baron von Pirquet: the aristocrat who discovered and defined allergy", Hosp. Pract. (Off. Ed.) (published Oct 1981), 16 (10), pp. 137, 141, 144 passim, PMID 6800919
  • Wyklicky, H (1980), "[Thoughts on the history of allergy. In memoriam Clemens von Pirquet]", Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift (published Feb 15, 1980), 130 (3), pp. 123–5, PMID 6989119
  • Kapus, G (1979), "[In memory of Clemens v. Pirquet]", Orvosi Hetilap (published Jun 3, 1979), 120 (22), pp. 1327–30, PMID 379734
  • Asperger, H (1979), "[50th anniversary of the death of Clemens von Pirquet]", Pädiatrie und Pädologie, 14 (2), pp. I–II, PMID 379746
  • "[Münchener Medizinische Wochenschrift/24 July 1906: Allergy by Clemens v. Pirquet, Vienna]", MMW, Münchener Medizinische Wochenschrift (published Apr 7, 1978), 120 (14), p. 474, 1978, PMID 347265
  • Székely, S (1974), "[Clemens von Pirquet]", Orvosi Hetilap (published May 19, 1974), 115 (20), pp. 1175–7, PMID 4597514
  • Rapaport, H G (1973), "Clemens von Pirquet and allergy", Annals of Allergy (published Oct 1973), 31 (10), pp. 467–75, PMID 4588535
  • TREIMAN, V V (1965), "Clemens Pirquet, an Outstanding Austrian Man of Medicine", Sovetskaia Meditsina (published Mar 1965), 28, pp. 151–3, PMID 14290647
  • WAGNER, R (1964), "Clemens von Pirquet, Discoverer of the Concept of Allergy", Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine (published Mar 1964), 40, pp. 229–35, PMC 1750523, PMID 14130490
  • WAGNER, R (1963), "[Clemens von PIRQUET.]", Wien. Klin. Wochenschr. (published Apr 5, 1963), 75, pp. 241–3, PMID 13998265
  • KUNDRATITZ, K (1954), "[Researches and theories of Clemens von Pirquet.]", Wien. Klin. Wochenschr. (published Apr 2, 1954), 66 (13), pp. 217–20, PMID 13169763

External links[edit]