LANDSTEINER, KARL


LANDSTEINER, KARL
LANDSTEINER, KARL (1868–1943), scientist and Nobel Prize laureate, discoverer of the basic human blood groups and of the Rhesus blood factor. Landsteiner was born in Vienna; from 1898 to 1908 he worked at the Pathology Institute of Vienna University and from 1909 to 1919 taught pathology at the University's Wilhelminenspital. After three years in Holland he went to New York in 1922 to become a member of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, and worked there for the rest of his life. He died a Roman Catholic. In 1927, together with philip levine , Landsteiner described the M, N, and P factors in human blood. These hereditary factors came to be used to decide cases of doubtful paternity. In 1930 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine, for his discovery of four different groups of human blood, A, B, AB, and O, distinguished by their clotting factors. This became the basis for matching donor and recipient in blood transfusions. In 1940 Landsteiner and Alexander S. Wiener completed the research leading to their discovery of the Rhesus or Rh factor which was to become of lifesaving importance in obstetrics and clinical medicine. Landsteiner also made other major contributions to medical science: he introduced dark-field illumination for demonstrating spirochetes in syphilitic lesions and discovered that the rhesus monkey could be infected by the poliomyelitis virus – a finding which was the basis, decades later, for the development of the salk vaccine. His The Specificity of Serological Reactions (1936) has become a classic. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: T.N. Levitan, Laureates: Jewish Winners of the Nobel Prize (1960), 128, 137–40; Heidelberger, in: Science, 98 (1943), 233f.; P. Speiser, Karl Landsteiner (Ger., 1914), including list of his publications. (Samuel Aaron Miller)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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