[Armauer Hansen (1841-1912), portrait of a Nordic pioneer].Hist Sci Med 2002 Jan-Mar; 36(1):75-81HS
Desending from a Danish family, Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen was born in Bergan, Norway, on 29 July, 1841. Graduated in medicine in 1866 from the University at Christiana (the former name of Oslo), he started his medical career as an assistant physician at the National Hospital of Oslo for one year, working afterwards as a medical officer for a fishing company outside the Arctic Circle. Taking not well his routine job, he soon returned to Bergen where he began his work on a disease known as leprosy at the age of 26 and as an assistant of D.C. Danielssen at the Lungegaarden Hospital. There he engaged in research and investigations on the nature of the disease. Studying the various types of leprosy (skin, nerve and visceral lesions), he was awarded, one year after beginning his work, the gold metal of the University for his first publication on the disease. While Danielssen leaned toward heredity as a dominant factor in leprosy, Hansen's conviction was that the disease must have an infectious causal agent. In about 1871, Hansen began to observe tiny little rods in tissue specimens and considered they could be the ethiologic agent of leprosy, the more he found these rods in all the infiltrated nodular lesions in his patients. Finally, he proposed on February 28, 1873, that the rods were bacilli, responsible of leprosy. Promoted to the rank of Chief of the Leprosy Service in 1875, he held his job for 37 years; Hansen's entire adult life was spent at work in leprosy. He edited the journal <<Lepra>>. Hansen was also an eminent zoologist engaged in studies involving mollusks and worms; Since 1874, he was president of the Bergen Museum of Natural History. Armauer Hansen died on February 12, 1912, and the funeral ceremonies took place in the Museum of Bergen where his ashes are still kept.