Carl Prausnitz Giles – family doctor and father of reagin detection

Dr. Carl Prausnitz Giles was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1876, the son of Otto Prausnitz, a Physician in the army reserve of the King of Prussia and Edith Giles, daughter of George and Elizabeth Giles of Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. Carl qualified in Medicine at the Universities of Leipzig, Kiel and Breslau. He began work at the Hamburg Hygiene Institute, undertaking diagnostic work on cholera, plague, typhoid, diphtheria and tuberculosis. Carl frequently visited his mother’s home in Bonchurch and became proficient in both German and English and obtained British medical qualifications, MRCS. LRCP. The key work, for which he is mainly remembered, was the discovery of the principle responsible for the supersensitivity of his co-worker, Küstner, to cooked fish. In a classic paper published in 1921, he showed this could be transferred to non-sensitive individuals. He called it reagin, eventually shown to be IgE antibody. The test demonstrating its existence, the Prausnitz-Küstner reaction, was used for many years to demonstrate allergy in patients. In 1926, Prausnitz was appointed Professor and Director of the Institute of Hygiene in Breslau. Due to his Jewish antecedents, in 1934 he was compulsorily retired from his Chair in Breslau and moved his family to England. In 1935 he moved to Bonchurch. At the age of 60 years he embarked on a career in General Practice in partnership with a childhood friend, Dr. Bruce Williamson. He took his mother’s maiden name and became Dr. CP Giles of Ventnor, Isle of Wight. UK.

This abstract is from a summary manuscript researched and compiled in 1993 by Dr. David Hide of St. Mary’s Hospital, Newport, Isle of Wight, UK. The summary has been published in Allergo J Int (DOI 10.1007/s40629-016-0004-9).  The full manuscript can be accessed using the link below.

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Carl Prausnitz Giles - Family Doctor and Father of Allergy, by David W Hide   ...