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Pasteur, Koch and American Bacteriology

Patricia Peck Gossel
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Vol. 22, No. 1, Selected Papers from a Conference Held at the Dibner Institute: 'Pasteur, Germs and the Bacterial Laboratory', 22-23 November 1996, Part I (2000), pp. 81-100
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23332276
Page Count: 20
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Pasteur, Koch and American Bacteriology
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Abstract

This study traces American awareness of the work of Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch from the 1860s to the 1890s. In the years before the Civil War, American interest in germ theories had appeared at times of epidemics and persisted to a limited extent among physician-microscopists. Discussions of Pasteur's work occurred primarily in the context of spontaneous generation and antisepsis. Few Americans imitated his work on immunology or studied with Pasteur, but his work on immunity influenced their faith in the potential of bacteriology as a solution to problems of infectious disease. Koch's discoveries of the bacterial agents of tuberculosis and cholera stimulated American medical and public health interest in bacteriology in a more practical way. Americans learned Koch's methods by taking his courses and imported them directly into their own laboratories. A context of enthusiasm for science, educational reform, and problems of infectious disease associated with urbanization and changes in agriculture aided the growth of bacteriology in the American context.

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