Felix Hoppe-Seyler bigraphy, stories - Chemists

Felix Hoppe-Seyler : biography

26 December 1825 - 10 August 1895

Ernst Felix Immanuel Hoppe-Seyler (26 December 1825 – 10 August 1895) was a German physiologist and chemist.

Hoppe-Seyler was born in Freyburg an der Unstrut in the Province of Saxony. He originally trained to be a physician in Halle and Leipzig, and received his medical doctorate from Berlin in 1851. Afterwards, he was an assistant to Rudolf Virchow at the Pathological Institute in Berlin. Hoppe-Seyler preferred scientific research to medicine, and later held positions in anatomy, applied chemistry, and physiological chemistry in Greifswald, Tübingen and Strasbourg. At Strasbourg, he was head of the department of biochemistry, the only such institution in Germany at the time.

He was one of the founders of biochemistry, physiological chemistry and molecular biology, and his work led to advances in organic chemistry by his students and by immunologist Paul Ehrlich. Among his students and collaborators were Friedrich Miescher (1844–1895) and Nobel laureate Albrecht Kossel (1853–1927).

Selected written works

  • Handbuch der physiologisch und pathologisch-chemischen Analyse (1858)
  • Physiologische Chemie (4 volumes, 1877–81)
  • Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie (1877–1921)


His numerous investigations include studies of blood, hemoglobin, pus, bile, milk, and urine. Hoppe-Seyler was the first scientist to describe the optical absorption spectrum of the red blood pigment and its two distinctive absorption bands. He also recognized the binding of oxygen to erythrocytes as a function of hemoglobin, which in turn creates the compound oxyhemoglobin. Hoppe-Seyler was able to obtain hemoglobin in crystalline form, and confirmed that it contained iron.

Hoppe-Seyler performed studies of chlorophyll, and is credited with the isolation of several different proteins (which he called proteids). He was also the first to purify lecithin and establish its composition. In 1877 he founded the Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie (Journal for Physiological Chemistry), and was its editor until his death in 1895. He died in Wasserburg am Bodensee in the Kingdom of Bavaria.

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