Chapter 48 : Johannes Fibiger, a Dane to Remember

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Johannes Fibiger, the meticulous Dane, has rarely been credited for the considerable impact that his efforts had on the course of experimental oncology. It was accidental observation that triggered his researches into the causation of malignancy. Fibiger noticed, in the stomachs of some rats, tumors which in turn contained a parasitic nematode, later called . First, he tried but failed to elicit tumors by feeding rats with either the nematodes or their eggs. Then, he looked into Spiroptera’s life cycle and realized that it passed part of its time in the cockroach. Fibiger’s work had two consequences for cancer research. It established the experimental study of malignant disease by showing for the first time that cancer could be induced in laboratory animals. Ninety years later, with cancer research reliant on a range of disciplines from epidemiology to molecular genetics, the significance of this shift may appear less than striking Johannes Fibiger’s other contribution was to convince scientists that chronic irritation could indeed trigger the emergence of cancer. Now that one is aware of the roles of human papillomaviruses in cervical cancers, in stomach cancers, and hepatitis B virus in hepatocellular carcinoma, Fibiger’s studies of no longer seem outré.

Citation: Dixon B. 2009. Johannes Fibiger, a Dane to Remember, p 224-227. In Animalcules. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817442.ch48
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1. Beck, W. S. 1957. Modern Science and the Nature of Life. Harcourt, Brace, New York, NY.
2. Miller, D.,, I. Miller,, J. Miller,, and M. Miller (ed.). 2002. Cambridge Dictionary of Scientists. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

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