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History of Medicine |

Robert Koch and American Medicine

RUSSELL C. MAULITZ, M.D., Ph.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Russell C. Maulitz, M.D., Ph.D.; EFSH/D6, University of Pennsylvania, 215 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


© 1982 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1982;97(5):761-766. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-97-5-761
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The centenary of Robert Koch's discovery of the tubercle bacillus is an appropriate occasion for a reconsideration of the American reception of Koch's bacteriologic investigations. At the time of the U.S. centennial in 1876 American views on infectious disease were disparate and ill-formed. The news of Koch's initial tuberculosis investigations stirred controversy in the inchoate American medical community. By the late 1880s, however, his ideas and techniques achieved widespread acceptance and by the time an aging Koch travelled to the United States in 1908 the American medical community had been transformed. New and divisive theoretical issues had become prominent. Koch was now in conflict with a medical establishment resistant to ideas incongruent with its native ideas.

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