Teaching Science through History II

Robert Koch & Tuberculosis

by Jonathan Jescke

This case study focuses on the origins of modern germ theory -- and the postulates and methods so central to its effective practice today. Tuberculosis was a scurge in the 19th century and provided a context for the research of Robert Koch. This episode was the "proving grounds" for Koch's postulates, for his method of isolating pure cultures with solid media, and (by chance) of gram staining technique.

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Robert Koch (wikipedia)

Robert Koch, showing solid media

TB pathology, from Koch 1884 publ., showing gram staining

Koch's 1882 pub on TB

"Fading Away" -- 1858 photomontage of tuberculosis tragedy