Date of this Version
Published in Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Volume 4 (1977).
Hermann Lebert (1813-1878) was born in Breslau, Germany (now Poland). His medical studies took place in Berlin and later in Zürich, Switzerland. In 1836 he studied in Paris under Dupuytren and Louis. In 1838 he began the practice of medicine at Bex, Switzerland, followed by work in Berlin, Paris, Zürich, and Bex again, and finally, Breslau. He wrote prolifically in both German and French and is best known as one of the first anatomists of the 19th century to use the microscope for pathology studies. Among his many research efforts, he distinguished between tuberculosis and cancer, which until that time had often been confused as the same disease. In Paris from 1857- 1861, he produced an atlas of pathologic anatomy entitled, Traité D'Anatomie Pathologique, Générale et Spéciale, in which he may have been one of the first to describe premalignant polyps of the colon, rectum, and stomach. Cancers of all sites were described grossly and microscopically. He believed that only 7% of cancers were hereditary, citing Napoleon's family history of gastric cancer as one example.