Alois Alzheimer – The Disease
The term ”Alzheimer’s Disease“ dates back to the case record of a 51-year old female patient (Mrs. Auguste D.) who had been admitted to the Frankfurt hospital on November 25, 1901 with signs of dementia.
The file had been found by Konrad Maurer, Stephan Volk and Hector Gerbaldo in the archives of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Frankfurt on Main.
Alois Alzheimer examined the patient by himself. The dialogue written by his own handwriting still exists:
26. XI. She sits on the bed with helpless expression.
- What is your name? Auguste.
- Last name? Auguste.
- What is your husband’s name?
- Auguste, I think.
- Your husband? Ah, my husband …
(She looks as if she didn’t understand the question)
- Are you married? To Auguste.
- Mrs D.? Yes, to Auguste D
- A photograph of Auguste D. - requested by Alzheimer - travels around the globe 100 years later.
In 1903 Alois Alzheimer left Frankfurt and went to Munich via Heidelberg to continue his scientific and medical activities at the Royal Psychiatric Clinic (Director: Emil Kraepelin). His postdoctoral thesis ”Histological Studies on the Differential Diagnosis of Progressive Paralysis“ was based on cases of paralysis examined in Frankfurt.
Under his supervision, the laboratory established at the Munich Clinic became one of the leading centers of histopathologic research. Among his students were renowned scientists and physicians: Karl Kleist, Hans-Gerhard Creutzfeldt, Alfons Jakob, Constantin von Economo, Ludwig Merzbacher, F. H. Lewy, Gaetano Perusini and Ugo Cerletti.
On the occasion of the ”37th Meeting of Southwest German Psychiatrists“ held in Tübingen in November 1906 Alois Alzheimer reported on this patient. The title of his lecture was ”Über eine eigenartige Erkrankung der Hirnrinde“ (A characteristic disease of the cerebral cortex). Later on, at the suggestion of Emil Kraepelin, presenile dementia was designated ”Alzheimer’s disease“.