On June 26, 1943, the scientific world lost one of its greatest men. Karl Landsteiner, stricken in his laboratory two days before, succumbed to a heart attack. While it may be true that mortal man should not deplore a quick merciful death coming in the midst of full activity after the lapse of seventy-five years of life, the greater part of them devoted to scientific work which will remain as an imperishable monument, yet we who knew him can not entirely conceal our sadness. For, no matter what age the biography1 may record, Karl Landsteiner's mind was as young, as fertile, as flexible, on that fatal day in 1943, as when he first began his career. The world of science lost an extraordinarily versatile genius of profound capacity and Landsteiner's friends lost a charming and genial personality, whose wit and modesty, whose inspiring qualities and distinguished demeanor will always be fresh in their memories.


Karl Landsteiner was born in Vienna on June 14, 1868, the son of Leopold Landsteiner, a journalist, and Fanny Hess. He studied in the schools of Vienna, became in 1885 a medical student in the University of Vienna, receiving his M.D. in 1891. From 1891 to 1896 he did chemical research with Emil Fischer in Würzburg, E. Bamberger in Munich, and Hantzsch in Zürich. From 1897 to 1898 he was assistant at the Hygienic Institute in Vienna under Prof. Max von Gruber. From 1898 to 1908 he was assistant at the Pathological Anatomical Institute at the University of Vienna, under Prof. A. Weichselbaum. From 1908 to 1919 he was Prosektor (chief pathologist) at the Wilhelminen Spital, Vienna. (“Habilitation” in pathological anatomy, 1909). From 1911 to 1919 he was Ausserord. Prof. für pathologische Anatomie at the University of Vienna, and from 1919 to 1921 he was pathologist at the R. K. Ziekenhuis, in The Hague, Holland. At the invitation of the Board of Directors of The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research he came to New York City in 1922, and became an American citizen shortly thereafter. He was a member of The Rockefeller Institute until 1939, and a Member Emeritus (exercising his privilege of continuing active work) until his death on June 26, 1943.

He married Helen Wlasto in Vienna in 1916. She died Dec. 25, 1943. His son, Dr. Ernest Landsteiner, survives him.

In 1926 he was awarded the Hans Aronson Foundation Prize, and in 1930 the Nobel Prize in Medicine. In 1930 he also received the Paul Ehrlich medal for his chemical studies. He was made an honorary member of numerous scientific societies here and abroad; he was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor and was awarded the Dutch Red Cross Medal.

He was the recipient of the following honorary degrees: Sc.D., University of Chicago (1927), Sc.D., University of Cambridge, England (1934), M.D., Université Libre de Bruxelles (1934), Sc.D., Harvard University (1936).

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