Hans Zinsser life and biography

Hans Zinsser picture, image, poster

Hans Zinsser biography

Date of birth : 1878-11-17
Date of death : 1940-09-04
Birthplace : New York City,U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-12-15
Credited as : immunologist, developed the first anti-typhus vaccine, Rats, Lice, and History book

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American immunologist Hans Zinsser isolated the bacteria that carries the European variety of typhus, then developed the first anti-typhus vaccine in 1933. The following year he wrote his best-known book, Rats, Lice, and History, which he described as "a biography of typhus", ranking it as humanity's all-time deadliest disease. In his many years of research into typhus epidemics, he traveled to China, Mexico, Serbia, and the Soviet Union, and at one point contracted typhus himself, but recovered.

Throughout his career he was know for writing scientific papers which, while always technically accurate, often included humorous asides. He wrote frequently for Atlantic Monthly, played the fiddle, and made frequent visits to his friend and fellow typhus expert Charles Nicolle in Algiers. Nobel Prizewinning polio researcher John F. Enders was an English major until he sat in on one of Dr. Zinsser's lectures, and promptly switched his studies to science.

Zinsser died of leukemia in 1940, after learning of his condition by examining his own lymphocytes under a microscope. Realizing he had only months to live, he quickly wrote his autobiography -- in the third person as a thinly-cloaked and humorous novel, As I Remember Him: The Biography of R.S.. The initials, which Zinsser used to sign his poetry and some of his non-scientific writings, were long rumored to stand for "romantic soul", but near death he told a friend that R.S. was Rudolph Schmidt, a German scientist whose book, Pain: Its Causation and Diagnostic Significance in Internal Disease, was first translated into English by Zinsser in 1908.

Author of books:
-Textbook of Bacteriology (1910, with Philip Hanson Hiss)
-A Laboratory Course in Serum Study (1914)
-Infection and Resistance (1914)
-The Sanitation of A Field Army (1919)
-Medicine and the Community (1924)
-In Defense of Scholarship (1929)
-Rats, Lice, and History: A Chronicle of Pestilence and Plagues (1935)
-Immunity: Principles and Application in Medicine and Public Health (1939)
-As I Remember Him: The Biography of R.S. (1940, novel/memoir)
-Spring, Summer, & Autumn (1942, poetry; posthumous)

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