James Israel

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James Adolf Israel (February 2, 1848 – February 2, 1926) was a German surgeon who was a native of Berlin. In 1870 he received his medical doctorate from Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität. He studied under von Bernhard Rudolf Konrad von Langenbeck (1810-1887) and Ludwig Traube (1818-1876). After receiving his doctorate in 1870, he continued his education in Vienna, and in 1872 became assistant physician at the hospital for the Jewish Community.

He was a military physician during the Franco-Prussian War, and later furthered his studies in Vienna and the British Isles. In 1875, after undertaking further education in England and Scotland, he became deputy physician-in-chief of the surgical department of the Jewish hospital in Berlin. He was promoted to chief-in-chief there in 1880, and in 1894 he received the title of professor.

Israel was a pioneer in modern urologic and renal surgery, and made important contributions in the field of plastic surgery, particularly oral and maxillofacial surgery. His inaugural thesis concerned Bright’s kidney disease. His first report of an operation of the kidney came in 1882. He was also an early advocate of Joseph Lister's antiseptic practices in the operating room[1].

Israel is credited for providing the first description of the genus Actinomyces in humans, which is Gram-positive bacteria that is the cause of actinomycosis. Later this organism was given the name Actinomyces israelii. He published over 170 articles during his career, largely on urologic medicine, and was co-founder of the journal Folia Urologica. He also designed the Lazarettzug, which was a mobile hospital railcar.

  • Associated eponym:
  • Nicoladoni-Israel-Branham sign: A circulatory phenomenon seen in angioma racemosum of the extremities. It was first described in 1875 by Carl Nicoladoni (1847-1902).

Selected writings

  • Fünf Fälle von diffuser Nephritis (Five cases of diffuse nephritis). Diss med. Berlin 1870
  • Angiectasie im Stromgebiete der A. tibialis antica. (Angiectasia in Stromgebiete of Arteria Tibialis antica).
  • Beobachtung einiger bemerkenswerther Phaenomene nach Unterbindung der A. femoralis . (Observations of Bemerkenswerther Phenomena after removal of the femoral artery). Klin Arch Chir 21 (1877) 109
  • Klinische Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Aktinomykose des Menschen. (Clinical contributions to the knowledge of Actinomycoses of man). Berlin 1885
  • Ueber Reincultur des Actinomyces und seine Uebertragbarkeit auf Thiere. Archiv Pathologische Anatomie; (1891); 126:11–28, (with Max Wolff (1844-1923)
  • Chirurgische Klinik der Nierenkrankheiten. (Surgical Clinic of Renal diseases). Berlin 1901
  • Die Chirurgie der Niere und des Harnleiters. (The surgery of the kidney and ureter). 1926


  1. Schultheiss, Dirk (2008). "James Israel (1848-1926). Discoverer of actinomycosis and pioneer of kidney surgery". Aktuelle Urologie. 39 (2): 105–8. PMID 18464337. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); Unknown parameter |quotes= ignored (help)

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