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Theodor Schwann was born
He first went to the Jesuits College in Cologne, and then to Bonn in 1829 where he met the prominent physiologist Johannes Peter Muller.
He then proceeded to the University of Würzburg for his medical studies and continued his training at the University of Berlin from where he graduated with a medical degree in 1834. His doctoral dissertation was regarding the respiration of the chick embryo.
He made extracts from the stomach lining of animals, and discovered that a factor other than hydrochloric acid was instrumental in digestion. Following further research in the area, he successfully isolated the active principle—which he named pepsin—in 1836.
In 1838, one of his friends, the botanist Matthias Schleiden, published an article discussing the structure and origin of plant cells and theorized that all plant cells share a common structure and that new plant cells form from the nuclei of old plant cells. This article made Schwann wonder if this could be true for animal cells as well.
He shared his ideas with Schleiden and they jointly began investigating the similarities between plant cells and animal cells. Their research on animal tissues led them to formulate the cell theory which was summarized in Schwann's book ‘Microscopic Investigations on the Accordance in the Structure and Growth of Plants and Animals’ in 1839.
Schwann became chair of anatomy at the Belgian Catholic University of Leuven in 1839.
In 1848, he became professor of anatomy at the University of Liege where he worked on a human respirator for environments where the surroundings are not breathable.
He was awarded the Copley medal in 1845 for his physiological researches on the development of animal and vegetable textures.
In 1879, Schwann was elected to the Royal Society and also to the French Academy of Science.
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