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Alois Alzheimer - Clinical psychiatrist and neuroanatomist

Alois Alzheimer was born on June 14, 1864, in the town of Marktbreit in Lower Franconia, near Würzburg on the river Main, into a Catholic family.

He attended elementary school in Marktbreit and later pursued a classical secondary education in Aschaffenburg. Upon completing school, Alzheimer enrolled as a college student in Berlin, Freiburg, and Würzburg from 1883 to 1885. Excelling in sciences, he continued his studies in medicine at various universities, including Berlin, Aschaffenburg, Tübingen, and Würzburg, where he obtained his medical degree in 1887.

In 1901, he started working at the state asylum in Frankfurt am Main, where he developed a strong interest in brain research and neurological disorders. It was during this time that his life took a significant turn when he encountered a 51-year-old female patient named Auguste Deter, who suffered from short-term memory loss, expressing her distress by saying, 'I have lost myself.' Tragically, her condition deteriorated into severe dementia, and she passed away at the age of 55.

After her death, Alzheimer conducted an autopsy on her brain and made a groundbreaking discovery of malformed protein clumps (later known as plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (referred to as tangles). These plaques and tangles are still recognized as the primary characteristics of Alzheimer's disease. Additionally, the loss of neural connections in the brain is another notable feature.

On November 3, 1906, at the 37th Meeting of South-West German Psychiatrists in Tübingen, Alois Alzheimer presented his findings on a "peculiar severe disease process of the cerebral cortex."

During his presentation, Alzheimer described an 'unusual disease of the cerebral cortex' that affected a 51-year-old woman named Auguste Deter. The disease caused symptoms of memory loss, disorientation, and hallucinations until her atypical death at the age of fifty. His report detailed the distinct plaques and neurofibrillary tangles observed in the brain histology.

Emil Kraepelin, a German psychiatrist collaborating with Alzheimer, later formalized his colleague's findings in 1910. He coined the term "Alzheimer's disease" in the second volume of the German book General Psychiatry, marking the first description of this specific form of dementia that gradually erodes memory and cognitive abilities.

Alongside his colleague Franz Nissl, Alzheimer dedicated subsequent years to an extensive six-volume study titled 'Histologic and Histopathologic Studies of the Cerebral Cortex,' providing a comprehensive account of nervous system pathology. The work was ultimately published between 1907 and 1918.

In 1913, while on his way to assume the position of chair of the psychology department at Friedrich-Wilhelm University in Breslau, Germany, Alzheimer fell ill with a severe cold complicated by endocarditis. Unfortunately, he never fully recovered and passed away in 1915 at the age of 51.
Alois Alzheimer - Clinical psychiatrist and neuroanatomist

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