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Moments in Surgical History
February 1, 2007

Siegfried Oberndorfer and the Evolution of Carcinoid Disease

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Gastric Pathobiology Research Group, Department of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.

Arch Surg. 2007;142(2):187-197. doi:10.1001/archsurg.142.2.187

Siegfried Oberndorfer was born in Munich, Germany, in 1876, studied medicine at the University of Munich, and became the youngest Jewish physician to be appointed to its faculty (1907). His unique observations regarding multiple small-intestinal tumors were presented at the German Pathological Society convention (Dresden, Germany, September 1907), where he coined the term karzinoide and published it in December of the same year. Twenty-two years later (in 1929), he amended this report and suggested that carcinoid tumors might also exhibit malignant features and metastasize. The rise of Nazism led to the termination of his position in 1933, and he “emigrated” to Turkey to serve as the chair of anatomical pathology at the University of Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey, where he remained until his death in 1944. This exploration of his life and times seeks to give Oberndorfer his well-deserved place in the pantheon of pathology and memorialize his unique observations that led to the discovery of the carcinoid tumor.