Emil Theodor Kocher
Emil Theodor Kocher was a Swiss physician and medical researcher who received the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work in the physiology and surgery of the thyroid. Among his many accomplishments are the introduction and promotion of aseptic surgery and scientific methods in surgery reducing the mortality of thyroidectomies below 1% in his operations, he was the first Swiss citizen and the first surgeon to receive a Nobel prize. He was considered a leader in the field of surgery in his time. Kocher's father was Jakob Alexander Kocher, the sixth of seven children to Samuel Kocher, a carpenter, Barbara Sutter. Jakob Alexander Kocher was a railway engineer and he moved in 1845 to Burgdorf, because of his job as regional engineer of Emmental, he was named chief engineer for street and water in the canton of Bern at the age of 34 years and he moved with his family to the capital, the city of Bern. In 1858 he managed several engineering projects around Bern. Theodor Kocher's mother was Maria Kocher living from 1820 to 1900.
She was a religious woman and part of the Moravian Church. Theodor Kocher was born on 25 August 1841 in Bern and baptized in the local Bern Minster on 16 September 1841. Together with the family, he moved to Burgdorf in 1845, his family moved back to Bern where he went to middle and high school where he was the first of his class. During high school, Theodor was interested in many subjects and was drawn to art and classical philology but decided to become a doctor, he started his studies after obtaining the Swiss Matura in 1858 at the University of Bern where Anton Biermer and Hermann Askan Demme were teaching, two professors that impressed him most. He was a studious and dedicated student but still became a member of the Schweizerischer Zofingerverein, a Swiss fraternity, he obtained his doctorate in Bern in 1865 or 1866 with his dissertation about Behandlung der croupösen Pneumonie mit Veratrum-Präparaten under professor Biermer with the predicate summa cum laude unamimiter. In spring 1865, Kocher followed his teacher Biermer to Zürich, where Theodor Billroth was director of the hospital and influenced Kocher significantly.
Kocher proceeded to start a journey through Europe to meet several of the most famous surgeons of the time. It is not clear how Kocher financed his trip but according to Bonjour he received money from an unknown female Suisse romande philanthropist who supported his friend Marc Dufour and was a member of the Moravian Church. In October 1865, he traveled to Berlin, passing through Leipzig and visiting an old friend from high school, Hans Blum. In Berlin, he studied under Bernhard von Langenbeck and applied for an assistant position with Langenbeck and Rudolf Virchow. Since there was no position available, in April 1867 Kocher moved on to London where he first met Jonathan Hutchinson and worked for Henry Thompson and John Erichsen. Furthermore, he was interested in the work of Isaac Baker Brown and Thomas Spencer Wells, who invited Kocher to go to the opera with his family. In July 1867, he traveled on to Paris to meet Auguste Verneuil and Louis Pasteur. During his travels, he did not only learn novel techniques but got to know leading surgeons in person and learned to speak English fluently which allowed him on to follow the scientific progress in the English speaking world with ease.
Once returned to Bern, Kocher prepared for his habilitation and on 12 October 1867, he wrote a petition to the ministry of education to award him the venia docendi, granted to him. He became assistant to Georg Lücke. Kocher was hoping to get his position, but at the time it was customary to appoint German professors to positions at Swiss universities. Accordingly, the faculty suggested Franz König before Kocher to follow Lücke. However, the students and assistants as well as many doctors preferred Kocher and started a petition to the Bernese government to choose Kocher; the press was in favor of Kocher and several famous foreign surgeons, such as Langenbeck from Berlin and Billroth from Vienna, wrote letters in support of Kocher. Under this public pressure, the Bernese government chose Kocher as the successor of Lücke as Ordinary Professor of Surgery and Director of the University Surgical Clinic at the Inselspital on 16 March 1872, despite a different proposal by the faculty. In 1869, he married Marie Witschi-Courant or.
She was the daughter of Johannes Witschi, a merchant, she had three sons together with Kocher. The Kochers first lived at the Marktgasse in Bern and moved in 1875 to a bigger house in the Villette; the house became a place for friends and guests to gather and many patients from Kocher's clinic were invited to dine at the Villette. Like his mother, Kocher was a religious man and part of the Moravian Church; this was an uncommon trait that not many colleagues and co-workers shared and until his death, Kocher attributed all his successes and failures to God. He thought that the rise of materialism was a great evil, he attributed the outbreak of the First World War. Kocher was involved in the education of his three sons and played tennis with them and went horseback riding with the
Robert Debré was a French physician at Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital in Paris. The most important pediatric hospital in Paris, l'Hôpital Robert-Debré - located in the North-East part of Paris - has been named after him. Debré was born in Ardennes. A member of the Académie de Médecine, he was a colleague and close friend of professors Jean Quenu and Albert Besson, who in 1950 identified cats to be the natural reservoir of the Cat scratch disease, he is the grandfather of influential French government ministers. In 1946, he wrote with Prof. Paul Rohmer a famous manual entitled "Traité de Pathologie Infantile" which became a reference for a whole generation of pediatricians. Debré