Paul Ehrlich

I. A World To Change

Everyone on this earth has to be grateful to Paul Ehrlich because he made so many advances in medical research. Our life expectancy rate would still be around forty years if Ehrlich hadn?t been interested in chemistry and biology as a young boy. If Ehrlich hadn?t combined so many different chemicals, he would have never combined the chemical known as number 606.
Ehrlich helped Emil von Behring find an antitoxin for diphtheria. Diphtheria is a disease that particularly affects children and sometimes leads to death. In 1894, mothers no longer had to worry about their child dying of diphtheria because of Ehrlich?s help in the discovery of the antitoxin for the deadly disease.
Another discovery Ehrlich made was of a dye called trypan red. Trypan red helped destroy cells that caused sleeping sickness. His research of antibodies and understanding how the antibodies attack harmful substances that enter the body has made him the "founder" of modern chemotherapy.
Ehrlich is best known for his work on curing syphilis. Syphilis is an infectious disease transmitted by sexual contact or kissing. Ehrlich named the compound that cured syphilis "salvarsan". This was a very effective way to cure syphilis.
II. Background

A. Family

Paul Ehrlich was born on March 14, 1854 in Strehlen, Silesia. Ehrlich was born in to a middle-class, Jewish family. He was the only son and fourth child of Ismar and Rosa Ehrlich. His father owned a small distillery. Ehrlich had an Orthodox Jewish upbringing in a time when being a Jew was controversial.
B. Childhood
When Ehrlich was six years old he started his schooling at the local primary school. At age ten, he boarded with a professor?s family in Breslau and went to St. Maria Magdalena Humanistic Gymnasium. Ehrlich was often at the top of his class and his best subjects were math and Latin.
C. Advanced Education and Training
Ehrlich took an introductory course in natural sciences at Breslau University in 1872. He then went to Strasbourg for three semesters. In 1874, Ehrlich returned to Breslau where he completed his medical degree studies. In 1877, he passed the state medical examination. In 1878 he received his medical degree.
III. Research and Development
A. Discussion of the Area of Biology
Most of Ehrlich?s discoveries had something to do with the immune system. The immune system is a body system that is responsible for destroying disease-causing cells. When Ehrlich was still in school, he was staining white blood cells to see their different characteristics with his work on antibodies, he is knows as the "founder" of modern chemotherapy. If Ehrlich had not learned about the immune system, then he might not have discovered the different things he discovered.
B. Discoveries or Work
1. Summary (of all discoveries or work)
Ehrlich helped to discover the antitoxin for diphtheria. Ehrlich discovered Trypan red, a dye that helped destroy cells that cause sleeping sickness. In 1909, Ehrlich discovered salvarsan, a cure for syphilis. His work with trypan red and salvarsan marked the beginning of modern chemotherapy.
2. Details of Major Work or Major Discovery
In 1907, Ehrlich was working on a chemical compound. This compound he was testing on trypanosomes, which are the cells that cause sleeping sickness. The compound was named 606. Since it did not work, Ehrlich went on.
In 1909, Ehrlich?s new assistant re-looked at chemical 606. It still did not work well on trypanosomes but very well on spirochets. Spirochets are the microorganism that causes the disease syphilis. In 1910, Ehrlich announced to the word the finding and renamed chemical 606 "salvarsan".
3. Major Contribution to Biology
Ehrlich?s major contribution to biology was his work on the immune system. He made the foundation for many scientists after him to discover cured for diseases. Without this contribution, we could still quite possibly have a life expectancy rate of 40 years.
4. Recognition and Awards
Ehrlich received many awards and a lot of recognition for his discoveries. In 1908, Ehrlich shared the Nobel Prize with Methnikoff for their work on immunity. Ehrlich was nominated two other times for the award. These times were for his contribution to chemotherapy. Ehrlich was awarded the Prussian Great Gold Medal for Science in 1903, the Liebig Medal in 1911, and in 1914, the Cameron Prize.
Five honorary doctorates and twelve honors were given to Ehrlich. In 1907, the title of Geheimer Obermedizinalrat was granted to him and in 1911, the title of Wirklicher Geheimer Rat was granted to him.