Hans Reese

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Hans Heinrich Reese
Hans Reese, MD.jpg
Born 17 September 1891
Bordesholm, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died 23 June 1973 (age 81)
Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Residence Madison, Wisconsin
Citizenship United States
Nationality German
Fields Medicine
Institutions University of Wisconsin–Madison
Alma mater University of Kiel (Germany)
Known for Research in Neurology & Psychiatry
Notable awards Elected to German Olympic football team, 1912; Recipient of the Iron Cross & the Hanseatic Cross in World War I

Association football career
Playing position Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Holstein Kiel
National team
1912 Germany Olympic 1 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Hans Heinrich Reese (17 September 1891 – 23 June 1973) was a German amateur footballer, physician, and neurologist who competed in the 1912 Summer Olympics. He was also on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine.

Early years[edit]

Reese was born in Bordesholm, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, in September 1891. He was educated at the University of Kiel, entering that institution in 1911 after finishing his secondary ("gymnasium") education. As a teenager and young adult, Hans became involved in sports and especially football. He played for Germany in the 1912 Olympic games,[1] and retained an enthusiasm for sports throughout the rest of his life.

Reese earned the M.D. degree in 1916. Immediately thereafter, he was conscripted as a junior officer in the German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) Medical Corps, serving as a military surgeon during World War I from 1916 through 1918. He was a combatant in the Battle of Jutland, and was awarded the Iron Cross and the Hanseatic Cross.[2]

Iron Cross of 1914
Hanseatic Cross

After returning to civilian life, Dr. Reese pursued postgraduate training at the University of Hamburg. He was a house-officer in internal medicine, pathology, and neuropsychiatry.[3] Upon completion of his residency, Reese decided to commit the remainder of his career to the practice of neurology.

Career in Neuropsychiatry at the University of Wisconsin[edit]

Dr. Reese was recruited to the University of Wisconsin (UW; Madison, WI) by Dr. William Lorenz in 1924. Together with Dr. William Bleckwenn, Reese and Lorenz comprised the professional staff of the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute and the Department of Neuropsychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine.[4]

Dr. Reese developed a particular interest in neurosyphilis, which, in the 1920s and 1930s, accounted for >10% of all psychiatric illnesses.[5] In the days before effective antibiotic therapy of that disease, somewhat unconventional treatments were utilized. One of them involved the purposeful infection of patients with malarial organisms, with the goal of creating a fever. That technique followed the empiric observation that syphilis sometimes improved after febrile illnesses. Reese collaborated with investigators at other institutions using this approach, known as the "Wagner-Jauregg" treatment.[6] Lorenz and Bleckwenn also focused on neurosyphilis with respect to their research endeavors, and, as the preeminent neurologist of the group, Reese was asked to evaluate the side-effects of experimental antisyphilitic drugs on nervous system function.[7] The trio of physicians at Wisconsin went on to publish more than 100 papers on neurosyphilis; in particular, they developed and refined an alternative to Wagner-Jauregg therapy, using an arsenical medication called tryparsamide. Until the advent of penicillin in the 1940s, it was probably the most effective treatment for neurosyphilis available.[8]

Reese had several other research interests in neuropsychiatry as well. These included multiple sclerosis, porphyria, schizophrenia, idiopathic myopathies, and myositis.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

German 1912 Olympic football team—Karl Burger, Hans Reese, Gottfried Fuchs, Otto Thiel, Walter Hempel, Adolf Werner, Fritz Förderer, Emil Oberle, Karl Uhle, Dr. Josef Glaser, Camillo Ugi

Reese was widely sought-after as a consultant in neurology at UW, especially after the departure of Dr. Bleckwenn from Madison for health reasons in 1954. Hans was devoted to both his colleagues and patients, and that feeling was warmly reciprocated.[19] In 1955, a new dean, Dr. John Zimmerman Bowers, was appointed at the UW medical school. His principal interest became the systematic replacement of existing medical school department chairpersons with external appointees from other institutions, in the belief that professional "inbreeding" at the school had been detrimental to its academic growth. Despite Dr. Reese's accomplishments and reputation, including past presidency of the American Neurological Association[20] he was summarily ousted by Bowers as chairman of Neuropsychiatry in 1956.[21] Reese had a myocardial infarct (heart attack) shortly after being dismissed. Nonetheless, following his recovery, he remained on the UW faculty and continued his academic contributions until the end of his life.[22][23]

Service to U.S. Government During World War II[edit]

During the second world war, Reese was asked by the U.S. government to essentially act as a spy in Europe, to gather data on new weapons being developed by the Nazis. As a native speaker of German and a person well-educated in the sciences, he was ideal for that role. Hans accepted the challenge, and provided valuable information to the War Department upon his return to the U.S. in 1944.[24]


Hans Reese died of another myocardial infarct in June 1973, at age 81. He is buried in Madison and was survived by his wife, Theresa, and their daughter, Sybil.[25]


  1. ^ http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/re/hans-reese-1.html. Accessed 9-3-2009.
  2. ^ http://www.abpn.com/downloads/presentations/ABPN%20mldyken%20FINAL%20[Compatibility%20Mode].pdf
  3. ^ Clark PF: The University of Wisconsin Medical School: A Chronicle, 1848-1948. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI, 1967; pp. 124-134 & 246-247. ISBN 0299043509
  4. ^ Lorenz WF, Bleckwenn WJ, Reese HH: Fifth biennial report of the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute, University of Wisconsin Press, 1924.
  5. ^ Op cit., Ref. 2
  6. ^ Reese H: Nonspecific and malarial therapy in neurosyphilis. Am J Syphilol 1929; 13: 348-359.
  7. ^ Op cit., Ref. 2
  8. ^ Lorenz WF, Loevenhart AS, Bleckwenn WJ, Hodges FJ: The therapeutic use of tryparsamide in neurosyphilis. JAMA 1923; 81: 1497-1502.
  9. ^ Reese HH: Critique of theories concerning the etiology of multiple sclerosis. Res Publ Assoc Res Nerv Ment Dis 1950; 28: 47-58.
  10. ^ Reese HH. Diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis. Postgrad Med 1949; 6: 127-131.
  11. ^ Reese HH: Skin lesions and central nervous system diseases. Postgrad Med 1951; 10: 230-236.
  12. ^ Reese HH: Trends in etiologic researches of multiple sclerosis. Am J Med 1952; 12: 572.
  13. ^ Peters HA, Reese HH: Sodium succinate therapy in multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders. Dis Nerv Syst 1954; 15: 76-80.
  14. ^ Reese HH: Pictorial creations of psychiatric patients; a means of diagnosis and therapy. Wis Med J 1954; 53: 397-400.
  15. ^ Peters HA, Woods S, Eichman PL, Reese HH: The treatment of acute porphyria with chelating agents: a report of 21 cases. Ann Intern Med 1957; 47: 889-899.
  16. ^ Goto I, Peters HA, Reese HH. Pyruvic and lactic acid metabolism in muscular dystrophy, neuropathies and other neuromuscular disorders. Am J Med Sci 1967; 253: 431-448.
  17. ^ Goto I, Peters HA, Reese HH. Creatine phosphokinase in neuromuscular disease: patients and families. Arch Neurol 1967; 16: 529-535.
  18. ^ Peters HA, Opitz JM, Goto I, Reese HH. The benign proximal spinal progressive muscular atrophies. Acta Neurol Scand 1968; 44: 542-560.
  19. ^ Op cit., Ref. 2.
  20. ^ Op cit., reference 2.
  21. ^ Oliver R: Making the Modern Medical School: the Wisconsin Stories. Science History Publications, Canton, MA, 2002; p. 93. ISBN 0881353620
  22. ^ Peters HA, Cripps DJ, Reese HH. Porphyria: theories of etiology and treatment. Int Rev Neurobiol 1974; 16: 301-355.
  23. ^ http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/WI/WI-idx?type=div&did=WI.v8i4.i0013&isize=M
  24. ^ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/a-gentleman-and-a-scholar/
  25. ^ http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?rank=1&new=1&MSAV=0&msT=1&gss=angs-g&gsfn=hans+heinrich&gsln=reese&_81004010=1891&msbpn__ftp=germany&_81004030=1973&msdpn=53355&msdpn__ftp=Madison%2c+Wisconsin%2c+USA&pcat=ROOT_CATEGORY&h=59711198&recoff=1+2+3&db=1930usfedcen&indiv=1, Accessed 10-13-2009.