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May 1974

Walter Kempner: A Biographical Note

Author Affiliations

Durham, NC

From the Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham NC.

Arch Intern Med. 1974;133(5):752-755. doi:10.1001/archinte.1974.00320170034003

Considering Walter Kempner's family background, it is not surprising that he chose medical research as a career. By the time of his birth, Jan 25, 1903, both of his parents were active medical investigators. His father made the first antitoxin against the poison of Bacillus botulinus. His mother established the pathogenicity in humans of the bovine strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Both had begun as assistants to Robert Koch, discoverer of the tubercle bacillus. Koch was the godfather of Dr. Kempner's brother who made a name for himself as the American deputy chief counsel in the war crime trials in Nuremberg.

Walter Kempner graduated from the Medical School of the University of Heidelberg in Germany in 1926. After internship in Heidelberg, where his first paper, on diabetes, was published, he worked in 1927 to 1928 and again in 1933 to 1934 at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Cellular Physiology in Berlin-Dahlem,