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Albert von Bezold

Scholar of the month March 2020

* January 7th, 1836, Ansbach, Germany                                              † March 2nd, 1868, Würzburg, Germany

1854      Began medical studies in Würzburg
1857      Continued medical studies in Munich, later Berlin
1859      Moved to Jena as Associate Professor
1865      Returned to Würzburg as tenured Professor of Physiology

The Universitätsarchiv Würzburg’s Scholar of the Month for March 2020 is the cardiologist Albert von Bezold. Known mainly for his discovery of the Bezold-Jarisch reflex, von Bezold also researched the connections of the neural system as well as the transmission of impulses.

A Doctor at Heart

After finishing high school, Albert von Bezold commenced his medical studies in Würzburg in the winter term of 1854/55. He showed great promise as a budding scientist, publishing research even before his degree was finished. Von Bezold moved from Würzburg to Munich in 1857, where he continued his studies. Yet he did not remain in Munich for long; that same year, von Bezold transferred to Berlin to study under the renowned Emil Du Bois-Reymond, known as the co-founder of the scientific discipline of physiology.

The University of Jena appointed von Bezold as an associate professor in 1859, before the twenty-three year old even received his doctorate. The scientist made his name in the field of physiology for his discovery of the Bezold-Jarisch reflex, a cardiovascular protective reflex that decreases both the heartrate and blood pressure. Though the significance of the reflex and its discovery went unrecognized during von Bezold’s lifetime, the 1930s ‘rediscovery’ by Adolf Jarisch Jr. brought public recognition to the late physiologist’s contribution.

Von Bezold remained on the forefront of then-contemporary research through his many findings and strong work ethic. His research establishing the existence of a ‘center’ in the spinal cord and brain that regulates the heartbeat marks a milestone in medical research advancement.

Return to Würzburg

For the summer term of 1865, Albert von Bezold returned to Würzburg as the university’s Professor of Physiology. He continued to work on the connection of the heart and the transmission of nerve impulses until his untimely death in 1868, at only 32 years of age.

Recommended Readings

Herrlinger, Robert; Krupp, Irmgard: Albert von Bezold (1836-1868) – ein Pionier der Kardiologie, Stuttgart 1964.