A tale of two cities: Hermann Oppenheim of Berlin, Hermann Hoppe of Cincinnati, and myasthenia gravis

Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles

One of the earliest papers describing a case of what came to be known as myasthenia gravis was written in German by an American, Hermann Hoppe. After completing his medical school education and internship in Cincinnati, Ohio, Hoppe pursued medical studies in Europe, first with Naunym and von Recklinghausen in Strassburg and then with Herrmann Oppenheim in Oppenheim's private polyclinic in Berlin. Oppenheim had published one of the first descriptions of myasthenia gravis (MG) in 1887. He invited Hoppe to present another of Oppenheim's cases in 1892. Hoppe compared it to three previous cases in the literature. Hoppe then returned to Cinicinnati to begin a successful neuropsychiatric private practice, while Oppenheim's polyclinic became an international center of neurology. In his great textbook of nervous diseases, first published in 1894, Oppenheim credits Hoppe with establishing that myasthenia gravis was a special clinical condition. Oppenheim went on to produce the first monograph on myasthenia gravis, which he classified as a "neurosis" because there was no demonstrable pathology.

Session X -- Politics of Science
Wednesday, 5 June 2002, 11:30 am

Seventh Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Los Angeles, California, USA