Karl Landsteiner

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Karl Landsteiner was an Austrian scientist and physician most known for his work in the field of hematology, which changed the blood transfusion procedure. His immunology research was just as important as his hematological research since it led to the isolation of previously lethal viruses and the development of vaccinations to combat them. He was dubbed the father of immunology, the father of hematology, and the gloomy genius because of his revolutionary work and singular personality, which has been described as sorrowful and intense. Despite the financial difficulties Dr. Landsteiner had in his native Vienna during the early years of his career, he never gave up his passion for study, producing numerous important scientific breakthroughs throughout these difficult times. Dr. Landsteiner was taught by some of the most brilliant scientists of his time, which no doubt aided him in furthering his already impressive intelligence and research. He was a reclusive man who loved to live alone, and as a result, he never gave any interviews about his groundbreaking work or its impact. Karl Landsteiner was a scientific pioneer who forever transformed the face of medical care. He possessed excellent intelligence and a persistent work ethic. Hundreds of people owe their lives to his research; continue reading to learn more about his commitment to science.

Childhood and Adolescence

Karl Landsteiner was born in Vienna, Austria, on June 14, 1868, as the only child of Leopold Landsteiner, a well-known journalist, lawyer, and newspaper publisher, and his wife, Fanny Hess.
Karl’s father died when he was six years old, prompting him to form a deep bond with his mother that lasted the rest of his life.

He was a great student in his youth, and he was allowed to commence studies at the ‘University of Austria’ when he was just seventeen years old, in 1885.

In 1891, he received a medical degree from the ‘University of Austria,’ but instead of practicing medicine, he chose to work as a research scientist, believing that research was the way of the future.
He switched to Catholicism in 1890, despite being born Jewish because only Catholics could become professors during the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

Karl Landsteiner’s Career

Karl Landsteiner’s first scholarly study, on the effect of nutrition on the composition of blood ash, was published in 1891.
Landsteiner studied chemistry under Arthur Rudolf Hantzsch, Hermann Emil Fisher, and Eugen Bamberger in their labs in Zurich, Wurzburg, and Munchen, respectively, from 1891 to 1893.

In 1896, he joined the ‘Hygienic Institute of Vienna’ as an assistant to renowned bacteriologist Max von Gruber, where he focused his research on the natures of immunity and antibodies.
He worked as an assistant at the pathological-anatomical institute of the ‘University of Vienna’ from November 1897 to 1908.

Karl discovered in 1901 that, contrary to popular assumption, all humans’ blood is the same, there are four different blood groups and three different blood types.

In 1911, he was appointed as an associate professor of pathological anatomy at Vienna’s Wilhelminenspital. He and his companion Erwin Popper also discovered and isolated the poliovirus during this time, paving the way for the development of a vaccine.

He obtained a position at the ‘Rockefeller Institute’ in America in 1922, and stayed there for the rest of his life.
In 1927, he updated his 25-year-old blood group research by uncovering 20 additional blood groups, paving the way for the development of contemporary paternity testing.
Landsteiner and his study collaborator Clara Nigg successfully grew the typhus causal agent between 1930 and 1932.

His Major Projects

In 1901, he released a landmark study titled ‘On agglutination phenomena of normal human blood,’ which detailed the various human blood groups.
In 1936, he published ‘The Specificity of the Serologic Reactions,’ groundbreaking work on the immune system that is still regarded as a classic in its area.

Achievements and Awards

Karl Landsteiner was chosen president of the ‘American Association of Immunologists two years after receiving an honorary degree from the ‘University of Chicago.’

In 1930, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his work in detecting different human blood types.
In 1934, he got honorary degrees from both ‘Cambridge’ and the ‘Free University of Brussels,’ as well as two years later from ‘Harvard.’

Personal History and Legacy

Karl Landsteiner married Leopoldine Helene Wlasto in 1916, and she converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism, her husband’s adopted religion. The following year, their only child, a son called Ernst Karl, was born.
He moved to New York City with his family in 1923 to take a position at the ‘Rockefeller Institute,’ and was awarded American citizenship five years later.

Landsteiner died of a heart attack on June 24, 1943, in his laboratory at the ‘Rockefeller Institute’ in New York, where he continued to work after his retirement. Two days later, he died in the hospital.

Estimated Net worth

Karl is one of the wealthiest doctors and one of the most popular. Karl Landsteiner’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.


With his pipette in hand, Karl Landsteiner died. Dr. Landsteiner hung a death mask of his loving mother, Fanny Hess, on his wall until his death.

Dr. Landsteiner was a talented pianist who was also known for bringing his beloved dog, Waldi, to his lab and allowing him to sit beneath his desk.