History of the institute

The 19th century was characterized by epidemics, the exact causes of which were still largely unclear and therefore a dispute broke out between supporters of the miasm theory and the contagion theory. As a result, the first hygiene institute in the German-speaking world was founded in Munich in 1865.

The Göttingen Institute was then founded in 1883 by Prof. Dr. Carl Flügge (1883-1887, see photo)
as the first hygiene institute in Prussia and was still located at Kurze Geismarstr. 11. He was a student of Max von Pettenkofer and Robert Koch and was able to close the gap between the two doctrines: both environmental influences and bacteria are involved in the development of diseases. His doctoral student Arthur Nicolaier succeeded in clarifying the etiology of tetanus.

Under Prof. Dr. Gustav Wolffhügel (1887-1899, see photo), also a student of Pettenkofer, the institute moved to Geiststr. 4. 

His successor was Prof. Dr. Erwin von Esmarch (1899-1911) see photo, a student of Robert Koch and son of the famous surgeon Friedrich von Esmarch. He succeeded in incorporating the newly founded Medizinaluntersuchungsamt into the premises of the Institute. His research achievements include the quantitative determination of Bacterium coli in water (Göttingen method) and the agglutination and identification of typhoid bacteria.

He was followed by Prof. Dr. Hans Reichenbach (1911-1934), who had already worked at the institute before and founded the Göttingen MTA School in 1926.  

In 1940, under Prof. Dr. Franz Schütz (1934-1945 and 1950-1955), the institute moved to its current location, Kreuzbergring 57. This building was the former orphanage of the city of Göttingen. of the city of Göttingen, which in later years was used as a dormitory for student nurses and was then used until 1940 as the 1940 it functioned as a house for the Hitler Youth. Under Franz Schütz the electron microscope was also used to detect polioviruses from 1950 onwards. of polioviruses. His staff carried out a wide range of research work, including typhoid fever and the sporulation of sporulation of anthrax bacteria.

Prof. Dr. T.J. Bürgers was head of the institute from 1945 to 1950. He initiated the foundation of the German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology (DGHM) and acquired the first electron microscope in Lower Saxony to study the spore development of anthrax bacteria. Prof. Dr. Henning Brandis (1957-1967) worked on bacteriophages and the lysotyping of Salmonella. Early on, he devoted himself to antibiotic resistance in various bacteria, including MRSA.

Under Prof. Dr. Reiner Thomssen (1968-1999), a new scientific focus of the institute was established with virological topics, especially on rubella, hepatitis and papilloma viruses. Under his colleague Prof. Dr. Reinhard Rüchel, mycology was developed. In 1973, the chair was initially separated into Medical Microbiology and General Hygiene/Tropical Hygiene (Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Bommer) and then in 1979 into Immunology (Prof. Dr. Otto Götze).


Since 1999, the institute has been headed by Prof. Dr. Uwe Groß. As a result of the Corona pandemic, the denomination was expanded to Institute of Medical Microbiology and Virology in 2022.

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