The eponym of the FLI
Friedrich August Johannes Loeffler
born 24 June 1852 in Frankfurt (Oder)
deceased 9 April 1915 in Berlin
The physician, hygienist and bacteriologist Loeffler studied Medicine in Würzburg and Berlin from 1870 to 1874. Subsequently, he worked at the Imperial Health Agency as assistant of Robert Koch and discovered the causative agents of various bacterial diseases, e.g. glanders, diphtheria and erysipelas. In 1888, he was assigned Professor for Hygiene and History of Medicine at the University of Greifswald.
In cooperation with Paul Frosch (1860-1928) he described the causative agent of foot and mouth disease as a particular agent, smaller than a bacterium. This made him one of the founders of the science of virology. The foot and mouth disease virus was the first animal virus described. Loeffler succeeded in producing the first protective serum against foot and mouth disease, which however was not used for cost reasons.
In 1910, he founded the first virological research institute worldwide on the island of Riems. He already left it again in 1913 when he was assigned as director of the Robert Koch-Institute in Berlin.
In Greifswald, Loeffler was an active member of the city council and made efforts to improve the hygienic conditions in the city. Thus, he strongly supported the implementation of a waste water drainage system, which, however, was not completed until after his death.
Loeffler’s most important scientific discoveries
were the description of:
- the causative agent of glanders: the bacterium Burkholderia mallei (1882)
- the causative agent of diphtheria: the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae (1884, in cooperation with Edwin Klebs)
- the causative agent of porcine erysipelas: the bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae (1886)
- the first animal pathogenic virus: the causative agent of foot and mouth disease (1898, in cooperation with Paul Frosch)
Loeffler as one of the founders of the science of virology
As founders of the science of virology, experts list Ivanovski, Beijerinck and Loeffler & Frosch, who – independently of each other - carried out filtration experiments for the identification of newl pathogens. Although the results of the investigations were similar, the conclusions were very different.
»»Only Loeffler and Frosch drew the correct conclusions from their results that the causative agent of foot and mouth disease had to be a small particular agent...... Their interpretation of the filtration results corresponds best to the modern concept of a virus and therefore they should be regarded as the founders of virology « (Translated from M.H.V. van Regenmortel, 2006)«
Conclusions of Loeffler and Frosch:
»»Therefore the assumption cannot be refuted that the effects of the filtrates are not those of a dissolved substance but the effects of replication-competent agents. These, however, would have to be small enough to permit passage through the pores of a filter withholding even the smallest bacteria....
Should further investigations of the commission confirm that the effects of the filtrate are caused by these tiniest organisms – as seems to be the case - we have to assume that the causative agents of numerous other infectious diseases of humans and animals, such as pox, cowpox, scarlet fever, measles, epidemic typhus, rinderpest etc., which we have not been able to detect so far, belong to the group of these tiniest organisms.« (Excerpt from the Report of the Commission on the Investigation of Foot and Mouth Disease at the Institute of Infectious Diseases in Berlin (Cbl. Bakt., I. Abt., Orig.,23, 371-391, F. Loeffler and P. Frosch, 1898))«