Bergey, David Hendricks (1860-1937)

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Bergey, David Hendricks (1860-1937)

American bacteriologist

David Hendricks Bergey was an American bacteriologist. He was the primary author of Bergey's Manual of Determinative Bacteriology, which has been a fundamentally important reference book for the identification and classification of bacteria since its publication in 1923.

Bergey was born in the state of Pennsylvania where he remained his entire life. In his early years, Bergey was a schoolteacher he taught in schools of Montgomery Country.

He left this occupation to attend the University of Pennsylvania. In 1884 he receive both a B.S. and M.D. degrees. From then until 1893 he was a practicing physician. In 1893 he became a faculty member at his alma mater. The following year he was appointed the Thomas A. Scott fellow in the Laboratory of Hygiene .

In 1916, he received a doctor of public health degree. His career at the university flourished. He was professor of hygiene and bacteriology in the undergraduate and graduate schools, and became director of the Laboratory of Hygiene in 1929. He served as director and had other university appointments from 1929 until his retirement in 1932.

From 1932 until his death in 1937 he was director of biological research at the National Drug Company in Philadelphia.

During his years at the University of Pennsylvania, Bergey was a prolific and varied researcher. His research included tuberculosis , food preservatives, the engulfment of particles and foreign organisms by immune cells (a phenomenon termed phagocytosis ), and the enhanced immune reaction of an organism to an antigenic target (called anaphylaxis ). He was also responsible for determining the interrelations and differences that helped identify the organisms in a class called Schizomycetes.

This latter research activity also formed the basis for his most well known accomplishment. In the early years of the twentieth century Bergey became chair of an organizational committee whose mandate was to devise a classification scheme for all known bacteria, a scheme that could be used to identify unknown bacteria based on various criteria (such as Gram stain reaction, shape, appearance of colonies, and on a variety of biochemical reactions). In 1923, he and four other bacteriologists published the first edition of Bergey's Manual of Determinative Bacteriology.

The first three editions of the Manual were published by the Society of American Bacteriologists (now called the American Society for Microbiology). During the preparation of the fourth edition in 1934 it became apparent that the financial constraints of the Society were making publication of the Manual difficult. Subsequently, it was agreed by the Society and Bergey that he would assume all rights, title and interest in the Manual. In turn, an educational trust was created to oversee and fund the publication of future editions of the Manual. The Bergey's Trust continues to the present day.

From the first edition to the present day, the Bergey's manual has continued to be updated and new revisions published every few years. In addition to the Manual, Bergey published the Handbook of Practical Hygiene in 1899 and The Principles of Hygiene in 1901.

See also History of public health

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Bergey, David Hendricks (1860-1937)

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