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Interesting Facts about Polish vaccine inventor Rudolf Weigl



Interesting Facts about Polish vaccine inventor Rudolf Weigl

Search engine giant Google celebrates the 138th birthday of a Polish biologist, physician, and inventor Rudolf Weigl, the inventor of the first effective vaccine against epidemic typhus, on September 2, 2021.

rudolf weigl 138th birthday
Google Doodle on Rudolf Weigl’s 138th birthday

Here is a look at the life and work of Rudolf Weigl.


  • Birthdate: 2 September 1883
  • Birthplace: Prerau, Austria-Hungary
  • Died on: 11 August 1957 (aged 73)
  • Death place: Zakopane, Poland
  • Sun Sign: Virgo
  • Mother name: Elisabeth Kroesel
  • Nationality: Polish
  • Institutions:
    • University of Lwów
    • Jagiellonian University of Kraków
    • University of Poznań
  • Known as: Research biologist, physician
  • Known for: Inventor of the vaccine against epidemic typhus
  • Notable awards: Righteous Among the Nations (2003)

25 Interesting Facts about Rudolf Weigl

  1. Rudolf Stefan Jan Weigl was a Polish biologist, physician, and inventor, known for making the first effective vaccine against epidemic typhus.
  2. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine each year somewhere in the range of 1930 and 1939.
  3. Rudolf Weigl worked during the Holocaust to save the lives of unlimited Jews by developing the vaccine for typhus and giving haven to secure those suffering under the Nazis in involved Poland. For his contributions, he was named a Righteous Among the Nations in 2003.
  4. Rudolf Weigl was born in Prerau, then, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Austrian parents.
  5. Weigl was raised in Jasło, Poland. Even though he was a native German speaker when the family moved to Poland, he embraced the Polish language and culture.
  6. Afterward, the family moved to Lviv (Lwów in Polish, Lemberg in German, and Yiddish), wherein in 1907 Rudolf Weigl graduated from the biology department at the Lwów University.
  7. After graduation, Rudolf Weigl became Nusbaum’s assistant and in 1913 finished his habilitation which successfully gave him residency.
  8. Rudolf Weigl then, at that point accepted his doctorate degrees in zoology, comparative anatomy, and histology.
  9. After the outbreak of World War, I in 1914 Rudolf Weigl was drafted into the medical service of the Austro-Hungarian army and started research on typhus and its causes.
  10. Rudolf Weigl worked at a military hospital in Przemyśl, where he supervised the Laboratory for the Study of Spotted Typhus from 1918 to 1920.
  11. In 1919, he became a member of a military sanitary council in the Polish army. As he started researching and experimenting, he found and developed a vaccine.
  12. In 1930, following Charles Nicolle’s 1909 revelation that lice were the vector of epidemic typhus, and following the work done on a vaccine for the firmly related Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Weigl made the next step and developed a procedure to create a typhus vaccine by developing tainted lice and squashing them into a vaccine paste.
  13. Rudolf Weigl found that a vaccine could be created from lice stomachs infected with Rickettsia prowazeki, the causative specialist of typhus in humans. He developed this first version of the vaccine in 1918 and started experimenting with guinea pigs and even human volunteers.
  14. Rudolf Weigl refined this method throughout the years until 1933 when he performed large-scale testing to develop bacteria and experiment with the lice using a micro-infection methodology.
  15. The first significant application of his vaccine was directed somewhere in the range of 1936 and 1943 by Belgian missionaries in China. Soon, the vaccines were additionally administered in Africa.
  16. After the attack of Poland by Germany in 1939, Rudolf Weigl proceeded with his research and work at an institution in Lwów. There, he had the option to build the production of his typhus vaccine. He went through the following four years in Lwów focusing his research on developing a vaccine for spotted fever.
  17. Rudolf Weigl led and directed the Institute for Typhus and Virus Research situated in Lwów. Weigl had the option to make a vaccine for the spotted fever; notwithstanding, it didn’t offer immunity against the disease. Instead, it diminished the symptoms, taking into consideration a lot milder disease in people.
  18. During the Nazi German occupation of Poland in World War II, Rudolf Weigl’s research attracted the consideration of the Nazis. At the point when they involved Lwów, they ordered him to set up a typhus vaccine production plant at his Institute.
  19. Rudolf Weigl hired a few Jewish friends and partners for the plant. Weigl employed and ensured about 2,000 Polish intellectuals, Jews, and individuals from the Polish underground.
  20. Following the border changes in the repercussions of the war, Weigl moved to Kraków in southern Poland. He was delegated Chair of the General Microbiology Institute at the Jagiellonian University, and later Chair of Biology at the Medical Faculty in Poznań. He resigned in 1951, however, production of his vaccine proceeded in Kraków for certain years until discontinued.
  21. Rudolf Weigl died on 11 August 1957 in the Polish mountain resort of Zakopane. He was 73 years of age.
  22. For Rudolf Weigl’s research and work with typhus at Lwów University, Weigl’s Institute was made within the department of Typhus Research. The Institute includes noticeably in Andrzej Żuławski’s 1971 film, The Third Part of the Night.
  23. Rudolf Weigl was consistently nominated for a Nobel Prize every year somewhere in the range of 1930 and 1939. Despite these nominations, he never got a Nobel Prize for his vaccine achievements or social work.
  24. A half-century after his death, Rudolf Weigl’s research, work, and service were perceived by many. In 2003, he was honored as Righteous Among the Nations. This award was given by Israel and celebrated his work for saving innumerable Jewish lives during World War.
  25. On 2 September 2021, Google honored Rudolf Weigl’s 138th birthday with a Google Doodle.

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