Ernst Neumann
stem cell

Ernst Neumann

Graphic  of Neumanns daughter

Helene Neumann (1874 - 1942

      History and Rediscovery of the hematological work of Ernst Neumann

      In 1968 George Rosenow, USA,  published on the occasion of the one hundred year jubilee of the discovery of bone marrow as a blood forming organ. He was followed by publications of J. Kühböck, 1969, Maxwell M. Wintrobe 1985 and Mehdi Tavassoli, 1983 both USA, Eberhard Neumann-Redlin von Meding 1987, Yvonne Klinger 1992, Herbert Neumann und Y. Klinger 1994 and Günther Brittinger 1995, K. Lawrynowicz 1999 (see literature)

      Below you will find some details in original letters:


      ”Neumann  examined besides the blood the pus-linke looking bone marrow microscopially: He found the white cells in the blood and those in the marrow morphologically identical” (Rosenow, 1968).

      Because of this publication, Prof. K. Lennert, Kiel wrote a letter to me as medical student. He supported the following little publication, because I abmininistered the inheritance of Ernst Neumann (which is now in the the Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, Abt. Handschriften und Seltene Drucke).


      Neumann-Redlin v.M.,E. Vor hundert Jahren: Über die Bedeutung des Knochenmarks für die Blutbildung Deutsches Ärzteblatt Jg.65 Heft 41 (1968) 2253-2254  

      More interest came again from USA:

      1983 - 1985

      ”Neumanns discovery was announced in the form of a preliminary report. The promised thorough description appeared the next year in an extensive article. In the interim, two communications appeared in Italien and were soon translated in the Centralblatt. They were both by G.Bizzozero, Turin.  Of the two, Neumann was a more persistant student of the subject. He continued his work on the marrow, and toward the end of the century produced other classic contributions. Among his ”firsts” were the identification of leukemia and of pernicious anemia as diceases of the marrow. He coined the term myelogeneous leukemia. Despite the intensity of the search, Neumanns observations did not catch on easily. His ideas were received with the same skepticism with which Immanual Kant´s Critique of Pure Reason had been greeted almost a century before. Neumann was supported by Bizzozero and by Claude Bernard, but there were also Pouchet and Hayem to repudiate him” (Tavassoli, p.62-63, 1983).

      “Again, it was Neumann who provided us with the classic statement. In 1882, he enunciated  the rule governing the devolopment of yellow marrow” (Tavassoli, p.72, 1983).

      “In effect, he recognized a phenomenon  that is sometimes referred to us as Neumann's law. It states that at birth all bones that contain marrow contain red marrow. With age, the blood producing activity contracts toward the center of the body, leaving the more peripheral bones with only fatty marrow. For about 50 years, students of the marrow did not know what to make of this phenomenon. ... Despite all the opposition, however, within two decades, Neumann's discovery was a scientific axiom! The brilliance of the truth may first be blinding, but ultimately it supersedes all artificial illuminators” (Tavassoli 1980, p.62-72,).  

       Neumann and Bizzozero “reported observations and drew conclusions that were so revolutionary that they were not accepted” (Wintrobe, 1985).



    After discussing with Prof. Lennert (two letters), I decided, to write down a biographie on the subject of  E. Neumann.  Help came from the institute of medicin in Munic, Prof. H. Goerke. The publication could be printed:

    Neumann-Redlin von Meding, E .: Der Pathologe Ernst Neumann und sein Beitrag zur Begründung der Hämatologie im 19. Jahrhundert. Schriftenreihe der Münchner Vereinigung für Geschichte der Medizin e.V. Bd. Nr.18 Demeter Verlag München 1987

    The first rezension came from R. Gross as well known german hematologist:

Deutsches Ärzteblatt - Buchbesprechung

E. Neumann-Redlin-v.Meding: Der Pathologe Ernst Neumann (1834-1918) und sein Beitrag zur Begründung der Hämatolgoie im 19. Jahrhundert, Demeter-Verlag Gräfelfing, 1987, 239 Seiten, 18 Abb., Broschur, 42.-DM

Der Pathologe Ernst Neumann hat gewiß zur Entwicklung der Pathologie im 19. Jahrhundert beigetragen. Ob das für seine Erben ein Anlaß sein sollte, seine umfangreichen Publikationen noch einmal zu veröffentlichen, mag dahingestellt werden. Wer interessiert sich schon zum Beispiel noch für die Raumaufteilung im alten Pathologischen Institut der Universität München?  Rudolf Gross, Köln

Another rezension came from Swizzerland, Prof. E.H. Ackerknecht:


The pathologist Ernst Neumann has certainly contributed to the development of the pathology in the 19th century. Whether this should be a reason for his heirs to publish his extensive publications once again may get open. Who is still already interested in the floor plan for example into old pathological institute of the University of Munich? Rudolf Gross, Cologne

Note: 1. “Munich” error: Königsberg  2. There exists at the moment no other pictures of the destroyed (1944) famous intitute of Pathologie and Pharmazie at Koenigsberg.

Translation of Book Review from: Gesnerus

vol.45 (1988) Part 1.

Swiss Journal of the History of Medicine and Sciences

Eberhard Neumann-Redlin von Medlng, Der Pathologe Ernst Neumann und sein Beitrag zur Begründung der Hämatalogie im 19. Jahrhundert (The Pathologist, Ernst Neumann and His Contribution to the Founding of Hematology in the Nineteenth Century). Publication Series of the Munich. Association for the History of Medicine. Munich 1987, 239 p., 18 illust. Demeter-Verlag

In spite of epoch-making discoveries, the Königsberg pathologist, Ernst Neumann (1834-1918), was one of medical history´s great, forgotten figures. We are fortunate, however, that this thorough monograph, motivated by various personal and political interests, has at last brought Neumann‘s obscurity to an end. Among the reasons for his obscurity is the fact that Neumann, a painfully quiet man whose son, brother and father were all famous mathematicians, never left his ancestral city of Königsberg, where he served as professor of pathology from 1869.

Ernst Neumann‘s greatest achievement is his discovery in 1869 of the blood-producing function of bone marrow. This discovery makes him one of the fathers of hematology. There were numerous other smaller discoveries as well. (For example, the discovery of myelogenous leukemia, the role of Charcot-Neumann crystals, and Neumann‘s law of yellow marrow development.)No less fruitful was his work in the study of infection (for example: the healing role of fibroplastin, cilia cell phagocytosis, fibrinal necrosis, etc.) or pigmentation (bilirubin, melanin, etc.) or the regeneration process in muscles (“Muskelknospen“ = muscle buds) and nerves. The Neumann Tumor” (congenital epulis) reminds us, that Neumann also successfully studied tumors and the pathological anatomy of the oral cavity (tooth decay!). Everyone interested in the history of pathological anatomy must read this treatise!                                       Erwin H. Ackerknecht


Further rezensions came from historicans, b.e. Prof. P. Voswinckel, Aachen. He differentiated between the epoch-marking discoveries of Ernst Neumann and the deficiency of the author as non-hematologist: “To summarize, with all the time  and effort the author has invested, this book must be designated a beginning on which reversion by an expert can be based.”  P. Voswinckel, Aachen in Blut, Springer-Verlag (1988) 56: 282. 


1992 - 1995  Ernst-Neumann-Award - special page

The recommendation of  P. Voswinckel (see above) was heard by the university of Bochum/ Germany. Prof. Herbert Neumann (no member of the family!) investigated in following question: Are the Americans Rosenow, Wintrobe and Tavassoli and in Europa Neumann-Redlin von Meding right in pointing out the common stem cell (E.Neumann: postembryonale pluripotente “großlymphozytäre Stammzelle”) as the description of Ernst Neumann, Königberg/ Prussia? And / or which role did Neumann play in this question?  At first, a disseration came out in Bochum (see below) and short later on, H. Neumann himself published a special book on the subject stem cell. 

Yvonne Klinger and Herbert Neumann as well as Günter Brittinger regarded Ernst Neumann as favorite hematogist in the 19.th century and his view (in opposition to Paul Ehrlich) of the one-stem-cell-theory for all blood-cell-lines even in extrauterin life:

         „Neumann bringt 1880 wiederholt zum Ausdruck,  daß sich die Vorstufen von kernhaltigen             roten Blutkörperchen postembryonal über die lymphozytäre Stammzelle aus
         neugebildetem Knochenmark entwickeln“
(Klinger 1992).

    Klinger,Y. : Über die Entdeckung der hämatopoetischen Funktion des Knochenmarks und das Postulat der Stammzelle. Von der Hypothese Ernst Neumanns zum experim. Beweis. Inaug.-Dissertation Bochum 1992

    “Es ist faszinierend, die scharfsinnige Argumentation Ernst Neumanns zu verfolgen, wie er ohne Polemik die komplexe Problematik darstellt („eine gemeinsame, auch im postembryonalen Leben stets vorkommende groß-lymphozytäre Stammzelle“, E.Neumann 1912) und gewissermaßen bis in den letzten Winkel hinein ausdiskutiert“ (Herbert Neumann und Ivonne Klinger 1994).

    Neumann, H.A.;Klinger,Y.: Knochenmark und Stammzelle. Der Kampf um die Grundlagen der Hämatologie. Ex libris Roche Bd.1 Blackwell Verlag Berlin 1994

    Ernst Neumann postulated a common stem cell for all hematopoietic cells. Unfortunately, outstanding contemporary investigators were reluctant to accept his novel ideas. Until his death, E. Neumann was creative in research so that additional discoveries are linked to this "Virchow the East", e.g. myelogenous leukemia, law of distribution of red and yellow bone marrow, description of dental sheath and congenital epulis. Two universities awarded him honorary doctorates (1898 Tübingen, 1914 Geneva) (Brittinger 1995)

    Brittinger, G. Life and work of Ernst Neumann. Manuskript Festvortrag zur Verleihung des Ernst Neumann-Award 1995 in Düsseldorf; Manuskript beim Verfassser dieser Hompage


The beginning of SC research can be dated back to Ernst Neumann, who was appointed professor of pathology at Koenigsberg in 1866 and described in a preliminary communication [5], the presence of nucleated red blood cells in bone marrow (BM) saps. He concluded in his subsequent papers, that during postembryonic life, erythropoiesis and leukopoiesis are taking place in the BM. On the basis of his observation, Ernst Neumann was the first to postulate the BM as blood forming organ with a common SC for all hematopoietic cells (Zech et al).

Zech,N.H., Shkumatov,A. Koestenbauer,S.: Die magic behind stem cells. Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics Vo. 24, Nr. 6 (2007) 208 - 214                                                       

Although it was suggested in 1868 that most of hematopoieses occured in the bone marrow (Neumann, 1868) the lymphatic system had historically been the first tissue believed to harbor hematopoietic activity (Müller, 1844). Ernst Neumann (1912) and others began to use the term stem cell to refer to the common precursor  of the blood system  after the turn of the century” (Willenbring et al). 

Ramalho-Santor, Miguel,  Willenbring, Holger: On the Origin of the Term “Stem Cell”.
Cell Stem Cell 1, July 2007, p.37



“At the same time, blood stem cells were conceptualized by histologists such as Ernst Neumann and Artur Pappenheim in studies of physiological haematopoiesis and various forms of leukaemia.” “Ernst Neumann pointed to the first successes of Carrel in tissue culturing as a reason for his hope that blood cell cultures might in future be produced as well (1912, p.382)” (Maehle 2011).

Maehle, Andreas-Holger: Ambigous cells: The Ermergence of  the  Stem Cell  Concept in the Nineteenth and Twentieth  Centuries,  Notes Rec. R.Society doi: 10.1098/rsnr.2001.0023, Published online

On 17.06. 2011, the Berlin Medical society (Berliner Medizuinische Gesellschaft), founded 1860, celebrated a Jubilee: 100 years pluripotente stem-cell “großlymphozytäre Stammzelle”

As written on another page, Neumann postulated a common stem cell for all hematopoietic cells


or look ath the invitation:

http://berliner-medizinische-gesellschaft.org/Dokumente/DGHO%20FB%20Jubi%20Mail%2 0NEU.PDF


If you wnat to know and see more about this subject, look at the homepage




Verantwortlich für die www.ernst-neumann-koenigsberg.de des 1 und 1 Puretec- Providers im Sinne des Presserechts ist der

HP-Administrator: Dr. E. Neumann-Redlin von Meding
Adresse: Mllhausenufer 6 in 12557 Berlin
Tel. 030-64167079 --
e-mail: e.neumann-meding(at)t-online.de

1. Respektierung des Elektronischen Teledienstgesetzes  6 (TDG)
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4. Erfüllung der Berufsordnung der Bundesrztekammer und der Berliner Ärztekammer:
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