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Rachel Hirsch

HIRSCH, RACHEL (1870–1953), German physician. She was the first Jewish woman to receive the title of professor of medicine in Prussia (1913). In 1905, while working at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, she was the first to describe the unchanged passage of orally given starch grains into the blood vessels through absorption from the intestine. She described the mechanism whereby corpuscular elements, passing through the system of lymphatic vessels, are finally eliminated from the blood through renal capillaries. At that time nobody took her seriously and, greatly disappointed, she discontinued her research. The phenomenon was "rediscovered" some 50 years later by Gerhard Volkheimer, working in the same hospital. At his suggestion the process was named the "Rachel Hirsch Effect." Hirsch was the granddaughter of Samson Raphael *Hirsch, founder of the neo-Orthodox movement in Germany. Miss Hirsch left Berlin when Hitler seized power, and she died in London.


Muntner, in: Korot, 3 (1964), 337f.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.