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Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart, New York

Klin Monbl Augenheilkd. 1992 Oct;201(4):254-62. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1045905.

[Alfred Th. Leber (1881-1954): a pioneer in tropical ophthalmology. Missing in the South Seas--rediscovered in India].

Klinische Monatsblatter fur Augenheilkunde

[Article in German]
J Grüntzig, H Mehlhorn


  1. Universitätsaugenklinik Düsseldorf.

PMID: 1453664 DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1045905


In spite of the brief duration of German colonial rule during that period tropical medicine enjoyed a remarkable growth and development. This is the first account of the career of the pioneer of tropical ophthalmology, Alfred Theodor Leber (1881-1954); medical history had previously reported him missing in Java after the 1st world war. His career was greatly influenced by his uncle, Theodor Leber (1840-1917), the founder of experimental ophthalmology. Alfred Leber was the one who combined teaching and research in the subjects of ophthalmology and tropical medicine. During his first expedition as a private lecturer together with von Prowazek in Samoa (1910-1911), he discovered the involvement of the eye in filarial infections with Wuchereria bancrofti (Lebers fundus). In consideration of his extraordinary work he was appointed professor at the young age of 33. After his training at the eye clinic at Berlin University under von Michel he worked as senior physician with von Hippel in Göttingen. Both Ludwig Külz and the famous painter Emil Nolde joined him on his second expedition, to New Guinea, in 1913. During his expedition in summer 1914 World War I broke out. Leber could not return to Germany. He stayed in the neutral Dutch East Indies during these years. Favoured by the ravages of war, British and Australian authorities (Military Intelligence, War Office, Defence) succeeded in seizing some of Leber's research reports and kept them under lock and key. The "Leber-Külz medical demographic New Guinea expedition on behalf of the Reich's Colonial Office" was therefore known to the public only as "Emil Nolde's travels in the South Seas".(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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