Theodor Schwann was a German physiologist who is widely credited as the founder of modern histology. He played a vital role in the development of cell theory and defined the cell as the fundamental unit of animal structure.
Early Life and Education:
Theodor Schwann was born in Neuss, Germany in 1810. His father was a goldsmith. Schwann loved tinkering with mechanical devices as a child. He studied medicine at the universities of Bonn, Würzburg, and Berlin.
Contributions and Achievements:
Schwann completed his graduation in 1834 and accepted a job at a Berlin anatomy museum. He discovered the digestive enzyme pepsin during this time. He also researched fermentation and muscle movement and made important discoveries. He was appointed a professor of anatomy at the University of Leuven, Belgium in 1838. Schwann discovered the organic nature of yeast and also coined the term “metabolism”.
Schwann implemented Matthias Schleiden’s cell theory to animals in 1839, and demonstrated that every mature animal tissue is composed of embryonic cells. He later moved to the University of Liège, Belgium in 1848, where he taught physiology and anatomy.
Later Life and Death:
In his later life, Theodor Schwann had developed a passion in theological issues. Schwann, however, continued to study cells until his death in 1882. He was 72 years old when he died.