Illustration of Communities of cells

1858 Communities of cells

The book of science

Tom Sharp

Rudolf Virchow cell biology Illustration of Communities of cells

Communities of cells

When did pathologists begin to shout Omnis cellula e cellula? Rudolf Virchow would know if he were still alive, believing that the origin of every cell was another cell, that life was organized in cells and by cells not in anarchy but in democracies or republics, that all disease was caused by disturbances of cellular processes not by germs as promoted by rival theorists. Omnis cellula e cellula!


Born in Schivelbein Pomeranian, Prussia, in 1821, developed a passion for pathological histology as a student at Friederich Wilhelm Institute, physician, writer, editor, led the first hospital train during the Franco-German War to treat injured soldiers, introduced the standardized technique for performing autopsies, annoyed the Prussian government for reporting that socially regressive policies worsened infant mortality in Upper Silesia, educator, department chair, city council member, chaired the Department of Pathological Anatomy at the University of Wurzburg, helped open a school of nursing at Friederichshain Hospital, designed the Berlin sewer system, worked to improve school hygiene, researcher, anthropologist, ethnographer known as the organizer of German anthropology, believed that disease was caused by cellular disturbances which led him to consider whether the skulls of the mentally disabled could be responsible for their poor development, then to help found the German Anthropological Society and to help found and to preside over the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology, and Prehistory, worked diligently to improve the training of physicians, constantly fought with the government for his patients’ rights, demanding social change, must have been eager to learn when he was wrong, but Virchow appears to us with the smell of the past in quaint terminology, an anonymous contributor of many things we take for granted.


Terrorist cells may hide anywhere in the body. Normal processes may be corrupted according to the effects of previous corruptions to support their dark purposes. Sleeping, they wait their time when their destructive actions will inspire new cells like themselves. Terrorists will destroy both the weak and the strong starting with expectations of normal life.

Virchow’s cell theory contradicts the possibility of spontaneous generation; living things are not generated from decomposition of plant and animal matter. His maxim Omnis cellula e cellula is an extension of omne vivum ex ovo (“all that lives comes from an egg,” William Harvey, 1651) and omne vivum ex vivo (“all that lives comes from life,” Francesco Redi, 1668). Also, it is thought that Virchow plagiarized the idea from Robert Remak.

Virchow was opposed to Darwin’s theory of the origin of species and declared that the Neanderthal bones were not from an ancient human but only a modern man deformed by rickets, arthritis, and heavy blows to the head. Even the best authorities are subject to prejudices.

See also in The book of science:

Readings in wikipedia: