Encyclopedia of Cancer

2011 Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab

Koch’s Postulates

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-16483-5_3242



A set of criteria used to identify the specific pathogen that causes an infectious disease.


Koch’s postulates are attributed to Robert Koch, who received the 1905 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology “for his investigations and discoveries in relation to tuberculosis.” Jakob Henle was a professor at the University of Göttingen when Koch enrolled as a student there in 1862, and Henle was one of the early proponents of the idea that contagious diseases were caused by microorganisms. In the early days of bacteriology, there were numerous heated arguments over the identity of pathogenic agents. The presence of commensal microorganisms alongside pathogenic microorganisms often resulted in the misidentification of the real disease-causing organism. At that time, there was also a school of thought which held that there were no true bacterial species, but rather that a bacterium could adopt nearly limitless morphologies and...
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  1. 1.
    Rivers TM (1937) Viruses and Koch’s postulates. J Bacteriol 33:1–12PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Evans AS (1976) Causation and disease: the Henle–Koch postulates revisited. Yale J Biol Med 49:175–195PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and ToxicologyUniversity of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonUSA