Karl Landsteiner was born in Vienna in 1868. He completed his medical studies in 1891 and studied chemistry in Berlin and Zurich. On completion of his studies, he worked at the Vienna pathological anatomy institute, and later at a hospital in The Hague, Holland. In 1922 he moved to the Rockefeller Institute in New York, where he worked until his death in 1943. Although Landsteiner was born a Jew, he later converted to Catholicism.
The Nobel prize for physiology or medicine was awarded to Karl Landsteiner in 1930, “for his discovery of human blood groups.”
In 1901, Landsteiner discovered the existence of three human blood groups: A, B, and C. He later changed the name of the “C” group to O” and discovered a fourth group, “AB”.
His research showed that blood cells carry chemical markers, a kind of “ID card”, known as agglutinogens, and it appeared that the blood groups are characterized by various combinations of these agglutinogens. This simple principle was employed as the basis for the development of tests for the identification of blood groups.
Landsteiner’s discovery enabled the safe execution of blood transfusions and surgical procedures, and in 1914, with the discovery of blood preservation, the era of the blood bank was opened.
A further contribution by Landsteiner was in the field of immunology. His research on the Polio virus laid the foundations for the later development of the vaccine against infantile paralysis.