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The German Robert Koch Institute (abbreviated RKI) is an organization responsible for disease control and prevention. It is located in Berlin and Wernigerode, and as a Bundesoberbehörde, it is a part of the Federal Ministry of Health.



The Institute was formed by Robert Koch in 1891 as The Royal Prussian Institute for Infectious Diseases.[1] Koch lived until the age of 66, when he died of a heart attack in Baden-Baden, in May 27, 1910. The director from 1917–1933 was Fred Neufeld who discovered the pneumococcal types. Neufeld's Deputy Director from 1919 to 1933 was Walter Levinthal. [2] Claus Schilling was a member of the institute for many years. Recognized for his contributions in the field of tropical medicine, he was appointed the first-ever director of the tropical medicine division of the Robert Koch Institute in 1905, where he would remain for the subsequent three decades. He directed human experiments at Dachau concentration camp using inmates to test malaria medicines, often with fatal results. He was executed by hanging at Landsberg prison in 1946.


The Institute prepares a report on cancer in Germany every two years.[3] The institute also plays a role in advising the German government on outbreaks, such as the 2009 swine flu outbreak.[4] In 1941 the Institute was directly involved in setting up experiments into typhus vaccines at Buchenwald Concentration Camp which resulted in the deaths of 127 of the 537 camp inmates involved.[5]

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Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ RKI: History
  2. ^ Landmark Experiments in Molecular Biology, Michael Fry
  3. ^ RKI: Centre for Cancer Registry Data
  4. ^ "First suspected swine flu death in Germany". The Local. 26 September 2009. Retrieved 2014-12-22. 
  5. ^ Evans, Richard J. (2009). The Third Reich at War: 1939-1945 (reprint ed.). Penguin. ISBN 978-1101022306.  [start page PT531 quote] After being approved on 29 December 1941 at a meeting of representatives of various interested parties, including the Army Sanitary Inspectorate, the Military SS, the Reich Health Leader and the Robert Koch Institute (the leading centre for bacteriological research), experiments were set in motion at the Buchenwald concentration camp. In the initial experiment, 145 innmates were first given a course of injections of the vaccine, or (if they belonged to a control group) not, and were then, a fortnight or so after the final dose, injected again, this time with the blood of a patient infected with the most virulent form of typhus. The experiment was repeated a further eight times with different vaccines. For 127 out of the 537 camp inmates subjected to these procedures the results were fatal.[end quote]

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