Aschner, Manfred

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ASCHNER, MANFRED (1901–1989), bacteriologist. Born in Ratibor, Germany, Aschner was a member of the Zionist *Blau-Weiss movement in his youth. He was educated at the School of Higher Agricultural Education in Berlin and immigrated to Ereẓ Israel in 1924, settling in kibbutz Yagur as part of the "Zvi group." In 1925, he joined the entomological station in Haifa to study the biology of malaria. In 1926 he was asked to join the Department of Bacteriology in the newly established Hebrew University at Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, and began his research on the symbiotic interaction between pathogenic parasites (Pupipara) and bacteria colonizing the parasites' gut. To complete his doctoral studies he went to the University of Breslau in 1929, returning to Palestine in 1930. In the mid-1940s he was approached by fish breeders from the Jordan Valley when a mysterious agent was causing the death of fish there and threatening to wipe out the entire fish industry in the north of the country. He found that a toxin produced by algae caused the death of the fish. He then developed a strategy for eradicating the algae and saved the fishponds. In 1952, he was appointed associate professor of bacteriology at the Hebrew University and in 1956 he was asked to head the newly established Department of Biotechnology at the Technion in Haifa. For discovering the cause of the fish epidemic and his contribution to the field of biological sciences he received the Israel Prize in 1956. He donated the prize money to a foundation devoted to the security of Israel (Keren ha-Magen). Aschner was a keen scientific observer, a devoted teacher and Zionist, and a pioneer in his field of research.

[Eitan Galun (2nd ed.)]