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    Plaques in Honour of Eminent Scholars

    Three alumni of the University of Würzburg have initiated a special project: the University has plaques installed on houses in Würzburg and the surrounding areas where eminent scholars used to live.

    When you walk from Barbarossaplatz into Theaterstraße, you will notice that a plaque has been installed on house number 2. It commemorates Professor Julius von Sachs (1832-1897), a former resident of the house. 

    Professor Sachs was a pioneer botanist. He helped establish plant physiology, an experimental discipline that studies the processes occurring in plants. In the 19th century, the work of Professor Sachs drew numerous students and researchers from all over the world to Würzburg.

    Over the next few months, Julius-Maximilians-Universität will have around 50 more of these plaques installed all over the city.

    What sparked the initiative 

    Three alumni of the University, Professors Horst Brunner, Walter Eykmann and August Heidland, initiated the plaque project. ‘In the 19th century, Würzburg was a mekka of medicine, but until recently there was not a single plaque commemorating this fact’, says August Heidland. ‘When you walk around Göttingen, you will see more than 300 such plaques’, the Professor adds, ‘and other University cities such as Jena or Vienna have them too’.  

    Walter Eykmann says: ‘I was enthusiastic about expanding this idea to include not only medicine but other disciplines as well. In a time when many people tend to be indifferent about history, the plaque project is a great way to make the rich academic history of our city visible’.

    The alumni's suggestion met with enthusiastic approval from Alfred Forchel, the President of the University: ‘The plaques will draw people's attention to the fact that they are passing by a house where a person used to live whose contribution to science changed the world’, the President says.

    Houseowner quick to agree 

    When the plaque commemorating botanist Julius von Sachs was unveiled on 7 October 2015, President Forchel expressed his thanks not only to the initiators of the project but also to Friedrich Schwab, the owner of the house. Mr Schwab had immediately given permission for the University to install the plaque on the listed building; the University had assumed responsibility for making arrangements with the monuments protection authority.

    Mr Schwab wished the University ‘every success with the future of the project’. Marcus Holtz, Head of the University Archive, and the Office of the President are responsible for the implementation of the project. 

    Eight plaques installed so far 

    The plaque in honour of Professor Sachs is not the only one that has been installed so far. Stop by the following addresses to see seven more plaques commemorating eminent scholars:

    • Theodor Boveri (1862-1915), Bismarckstraße 3: Between 1893 and his death in 1915, Theodor Boveri served as professor of zoology and comparative anatomy at the University of Würzburg. With microscopic observations, he established experimental cell research and the chromosomal theory of inheritance.
    • Eduard Buchner (1860-1917), Röntgenring 11: Between 1911 and 1917, Eduard Buchner held the Chair of Organic Chemistry. In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on cell-free fermentation, in which he showed that alcoholic fermentation does not depend on the presence of living yeast cells but on an enzyme produced by yeast.
    • Adolf Eugen Fick (1829-1901), Röntgenring 9: Adolf Eugen Fick served as professor of pyhsiology between 1868 and 1899. A pioneer of modern muscle physiology, he developed the Fick principle, a technique for measuring cardiac output, i. e. the amount of blood the heart pumps per minute.
    • Friedrich Wilhelm Scanzoni von Lichtenfels (1821-1891), Röntgenring 9: Between 1850 and 1887, Friedrich Wilhelm Scanzoni von Lichtenfels served as professor of obstetrics at the University of Würzburg. In his day, he was the leading authority of obstetrics in Europe. A special forceps technique was named after him. 
    • Albert von Koelliker (1817-1905), Theaterstraße 4: Albert von Koelliker served as professor of experimental physiology and comparative anatomy between 1849 and 1902. He discovered smooth muscle cells as well as other tissue structures and is the author of the world's first handbook of histology.
    • Josef Kohler (1849-1919), Ludwigstraße 20: Between 1878 and 1888, Josef Kohler served as professor of civil procedure and French civil law at the University of Würzburg. An eminent jurist, he was a pioneer in areas such as patent and copyright law.
    • Christian Meurer (1856-1935), St.-Benedikt-Straße 2: Christian Meurer, professor of Catholic canon law and international law between 1888 and 1926, was an expert in the area of the law of armed conflict. His ideas are reflected in the Hague rules of land warfare of 1907.


    Matthias Nowak, Office of the President of the University, +49 931 31-84737, matthias.nowak1@uni-wuerzburg.de

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