Paul Ehrlich was born in Strehlin, Germany, in 1854.
He received his medical degree from the University of Leipzig in 1878, but he was much more interested in research than opening up a practice.
At the time, French chemist Louis Pasteur and German bacteriologist Robert Koch were each discovering the role bacteria played in disease, but Ehrlich was the first to think of chemistry in relation to medicine.
Ehrlich was fascinated by dyes and how they could be used to stain certain tissues and cells in the body.
Ehrlich’s idea was that if a chemical like a dye could combine only with certain cells, then a chemical like a drug could combine only with disease-causing cells, like bacteria.
The drug could then kill the bacteria without harming the tissue around it, like a “magic bullet.”
It was the beginning of chemotherapy, the treatment of disease using drugs.
A few photograph of Paul Ehrlich shows him working with test tubes in the early 1900s. His research made antibiotics and chemotherapy possible and practical.
In his cellular research, Ehrlich discovered six different blood cell types. Because of this, he is considered the founder of modern hematology, the study of blood.