Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow (1821–1902) was born at Schivelbein, in the province of Pomerania in northeast Germany. At the gymnasium there he wrote a dissertation entitled “A Life Filled with Toil and Work is not a Burden, but a Blessing.” He earned his M.D. degree from the University of Berlin in 1843. At the age of 26 he founded the journal that became Virchow's Archiv and was published through 169 volumes. In 1848, he supported an ill-fated democratic uprising in Berlin, which imperilled his academic career. Thereupon, he took the chair of pathological anatomy at Würzberg, in a more tolerant political climate, then in 1856 returned to Berlin as professor and director of the Institute of Pathology. Meanwhile, he published his master-work, Cellular Pathology, wherein he established the then revolutionary concept that the cell is the basic unit of life and that all cells, healthy or diseased, stem from existing cells. Among his many contributions, Virchow described supraclavicular lymphadenopathy as a signal of otherwise obscure intra-abdominal neoplasia. From 1880 to 1893 he served as a liberal member of the German Reichstag, often opposing the imperialistic policies of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Virchow was described as having “a gargantuan appetite for knowledge, battles, and causes.”
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