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Karl Wilhelm von Kupffer

Born November 14, 1829
Lestene, Tukums municipality in Courland
Died December 16, 1902 (aged 73)
Residence Russian Empire
Nationality German
Fields physiology and anatomy
Institutions University of Kiel
University of Königsberg
Alma mater University of Tartu
Doctoral advisor Emil Du Bois-Reymond
Johannes Peter Müller
Friedrich Bidder

Karl Wilhelm von Kupffer (14 November 1829, Lestene parish, Tukums municipality in Courland, now part of Latvia - 16 December 1902, Munich) was a Baltic German anatomist who discovered stellate macrophage cells that bear his name.

The eldest son of pastor Karl Hermann Kupffer (1797-1860), Kupffer received his medical doctorate from the University of Tartu in 1854. Afterwards, he furthered his studies (1856-57) in Vienna, Berlin and Göttingen. During this period of time he studied under Emil Du Bois-Reymond and Johannes Peter Müller. In 1858 he returned to Tartu where he worked as a Prosector until 1865. In 1866 Kupffer was appointed Chair of Anatomy at the University of Kiel, and from 1875-1880 was a professor of anatomy at the University of Königsberg. From 1880 until his retirement in 1901, Kupffer was a professor of histology as well as curator of the anatomical institute at Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich.

Kupffer is primarily known for his work in the fields of histology, anatomy and embryology. He was particularly interested in the cellular, glandular and nervous structure and processes of the stomach and liver. Regarding his discovery of the eponymous Kupffer cells, he incorrectly believed that these cells were an integral part of the endothelium of the liver's blood vessels. In 1898 Polish pathologist Tadeusz Browicz (1847-1928) correctly identified them as macrophages. During his tenure at the University of Königsberg, Kupffer had the opportunity to examine the brain of philosopher Immanuel Kant.

Selected works

  • De medullae spinalis textura in ranis ratione imprimis habita indolis substantiae cinerae, 1854
  • Der Schädel von Immanuel Kant, Archiv für Anthropologie, Band 13
  • Über Sternzellen in der Leber, brief an Prof. Waldyer, 1876, Archiv, Mikroskopische Anatomie, 12, 352-358
  • Über die sogennanten Sternzellen der Säugethierleber, Archiv, Mikroskopische Anatomie, 1899, 54, 254-288
  • Über Sternzellen der Leber, Versammlung 1898, Veröffentlicht 1898, anatomische Geselschaft




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