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Fanny Hesse

Fanny Hesse

German-American biologist
Fanny Hesse
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German-American biologist
Was Scientist Biologist Microbiologist
From Germany United States of America
Type Biology Science
Gender female
Birth 22 June 1850, New York City, New York, USA
Death 1 December 1934, Dresden, Dresden Directorate District, Saxony, Germany (aged 84 years)
Star sign Cancer
Spouse: Walther Hesse
The details


Fanny Hesse (Born Angelina Fanny Elishemius, June 22, 1850 – December 1, 1934) is best known for her work in microbiology alongside her husband, Walther Hesse. Together they were instrumental in developing Agar as a medium for culturing microorganisms.


Fanny Hesse was born on June 22, 1850, in New York City to Gottfried Elishemius, a wealthy import merchant, and his wife, Ceclie Elise. She met her husband and research partner Walther Hesse in 1872 while in Germany. They were engaged in 1873, and married in 1874 in Geneva.

Research contributions

In 1881, while working for her husband as a technician in the laboratory of German physician and microbiologist Robert Koch, Hesse suggested that agar was preferable to gelatin for cultivating bacteria. This led to Koch using agar to cultivate the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

Prior to her discovery, Hesse, working unpaid, would make drawings for her husband's publications. While Koch, in an 1882 paper on tuberculosis bacilli, mentioned he used agar instead of gelatin, he did not credit Fanny or Walther Hesse, or mention why he made the switch. Fanny Hesse's suggestion never resulted in financial benefit for the Hesse family.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 18 Sep 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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