Rhoda Erdmann

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Rhoda Erdmann | © HMD National Library of Medicine, Rockville Pike/USA
Rhoda Erdmann | © HMD National Library of Medicine, Rockville Pike/USA

Rhoda Erdmann (Hersfeld 1870 - 1935 Berlin). In 1913 Erdmann's habilitation was denied by the Prussian Ministry of Culture. After this she embarked on a multi-year research internship to the USA and in 1915 she became the "first woman to belong to the Yale Graduate School Faculty Teaching Body". Eventually in 1920 she received her habilitation as a biologist at the Berlin Philosophical Faculty and was subsequently recognised by the Faculty of Medicine. From 1924 onwards, she was an Associated Professor and Director of the University Institute for Experimental Cancer Research at the Charité.

She was the founder of the Association of German University Women Lecturers. In 1933, she was denounced by her faculty colleagues, the eugenicist Henry Zeiss and the orthopedic surgeon Prof. Hermann Gocht as "Jewish". When this turned out to be untrue, she was accused of having liaised to secure positions for her Jewish pupils. She was dismissed in 1934 and her institute which Zeiss had tried to make his own, was disbanded. In the history of DNA discoveries she is regarded as "one of the most important figures of biological cell research of the twenties and thirties" (2013).

(Text: Udo Schagen, 2013)

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Rhoda Erdmann im Labor (Berlin, 1929) | © Wellcome Library, London
Rhoda Erdmann im Labor | © Wellcome Library, London

Rhoda Erdmann in the laboratory
(Please click for an enlarged view!)