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This month in medical history, April: Gerhard Domagk

by Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | April 19, 2012
From the April 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Although Domagk should have been awarded the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of Prontosil’s antibacterial effects, the Nazi’s would not allow him to accept the award and he was instead arrested by the Gestapo for one week. This is because, by law, German nationals were not permitted to accept the Nobel Prize due to German pacifist, Carl von Ossietzky’s 1935 Nobel Peace Prize win, which had aggravated the German
government. In 1947, Domagk was finally given the prize, minus the monetary segment of the award. Too much time had passed and the Nobel Foundation had unfairly claimed his rightful money as its own.

As the years elapsed, Domagk’s attention turned to tuberculosis and chemotherapy
against malignant tumors. He eventually developed thiosemicarbazone and isoniazid – antituberculosis drugs – a great aid in curbing Europe’s post-World War II tuberculosis epidemic.

Among the plethora of universities where Domagk held honorary doctorates were Bologna, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Giessen, Lima and Munster. He received a number of honors and distinctions throughout his lifetime, including: Knight of the Order of Merit in 1952; the Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Health of Spain in 1955; the Paul Ehrlich Gold Medal and Prize from the University of Frankfurt in 1956; he was proclaimed Foreign Member of the British Academy of Science and of London’s Royal Society in 1959; Honorary Member of the German Dermatological Society in 1960; and was awarded the Japanese Order of Merit of the Rising Sun in 1960.

This month in medical history, on April 24, 1964, Domagk died in Burberg, Baden-Wurttemberg.

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