Historical background of the Department of Neuropathology

The Department of Neuropathology at the University Klinikum Hamburg Eppendorf arose from the "Hirnanatomisches Laboratorium" (Laboratory of Brain Anatomy), at the oldest Department of General Pathology in a German mental hospital. The laboratory was founded at the "Irrenanstalt Friedrichsberg" (Friedrichsberg lunatic asylum). In this institution a unique approach was taken towards mental illnesses, implementing British concepts of the "no restraint system" of John Conolly. The hospital was opened in 1864. First Director became Ludwig Meyer. He was succeeded by Wilhelm Reye, who initiated and set up the first laboratory of Brain Anatomy in a German psychiatric clinic.
Theodor Joseph Maria Kaes
1899 is considered the foundation year of today's Department of Neuropathology in the University Klinikum Hamburg Eppendorf. The psychiatrist Theodor Joseph Maria Kaes became first Prosector and head of the "Hirnanatomisches Laboratorium" at the Friedrichsberg Hospital in 1899. Kaes had been studying the normal and pathological anatomy of cortical fibre tracts for several years. He reported his findings in his major work on the size and fibre content of human cerebral cortex. Kaes was head of the "Hirnanatomisches Laboratorium" until he died in 1913.

Alfons Maria Jakob
Alfons Maria Jakob, a scholar of Kraepelin and Alzheimer, was successor to Kaes in 1914. In the mean time the old "Prosektur" had been developed to a very modern institute of brain research with the support of Wilhelm Weygandt, director of the Friedrichsberg Hospital since 1908. Jakob's widespread research interests resulted in numerous publications on very different topics. Among these are monographs on secondary fibre degeneration in the spinal chord, experimentally induced traumatic brain damage, extrapyramidal diseases of the CNS, the anatomy of the cerebellum, reports on CNS syphilis and two volumes of his unfinished monograph on the normal and pathological anatomy of the cerebral cortex. It was Jakob who discovered the "spastic pseudosclerosis" (Jakob-Creutzfeldt disease, JCD) and introduced it as separate disease entity. His first report on JCD was presented by V. v. Weizäcker at the 10. annual meeting of the "Gesellschaft Deutscher Nervenärzte" in Leipzig on 17 September 1920. Until Jakob's death in 1931 approximately 65 colleagues from Germany and abroad worked in his excellent research centre.



Hermann Josephy, one of his scholars, was Jakob´s direct successor. His major fields of interest included the neuropathology of psychoses and childhood imbecility as well as tuberous sclerosis. In 1933 Josephy had to leave the clinic together with several other Jewish colleagues and finally emigrated to the USA.


From 1934 to 1936 Erich Brack was commissarial head of the laboratory. Yet his main interest was in Forensic Pathology and Urology and he published numerous articles on the pathology of the urogenital tract. Since 1937 Hans Jacob lead the "Hirnanatomisches Laboratorium". He had been occupied with neuropathological questions since 1933, and amongst other positions, in 1934 he had worked as a Rockefeller scholar with Spielmeyer in Munich. His widespread scientific interest encompassed disturbances of brain development, retrograde and transneuronal degeneration as well as a hereditary form of JCD. In 1957 he became head of the Department of Neurology at the General Hospital Hamburg-Altona but continued to be in charge of the laboratory in Eppendorf for a further two years until he became ordinarius of Psychiatry in Marburg.


In 1959 Hans Joachim Colmant, a scholar of Gerd Peters, became head of the Department of Neuropathology. In 1967 the faculty offered him the newly established chair of Neuropathology in Hamburg which he held until his retirement in 1987. His research was focused on clinical neuropathology including topics such as chronic alcoholism, neurodegenerative diseases and hypoxic brain damage.
In 1987 the Department of Neuropathology was officially associated with the Institute of Pathology as Pathology II.


In 1988 Dimitrios K. Stavrou, a scholar of Otto Stochdorph, accepted the chair of Neuropathology. Main areas of Stavrou´s research are neurooncology and central nervous system lesions associated with HIV infection. His studies on brain tumours focus on the detection of glioma associated antigens by means of monoclonal antibodies in order to establish new diagnostic tools and more efficient therapeutical regimens against gliomas. Under Stavrou's guidance the Department officially took over the biopsy cases including muscle and nerve biopsies as an essential requirement for a complete curriculum of neuropathologists.
Since Markus Glatzel accepted the chair of the Institute for Neuropathology in 2005, the areas of research were broadened and focussed on neurodegenerative diseases, especially familial neuropathy with neuroserpin inclusions (FENIB), Alzheimer’s disease, and prion diseases. In neurooncology genetic aberrations in tumours, the immunobiology of brain tumours and especially the neuropathology of neurofibromatosis are pursued.