Hans Christian Joachim Gram, who lived between (1853 – 1938) was a Danish bacteriologist noted for his development of the Gram stain.
Early Life and his Career
Gram was the son of Frederik Terkel Julius Gram, a professor of jurisprudence, and Louise Christiane Roulund. He early took up studies in the natural sciences. After receiving a B.A. from the Copenhagen Metropolitan School (1871), he became an assistant in botany (1873–1874) to the zoologist Japetus Steenstrup. But he soon developed an interest in medicine, and in 1878 he obtained the M.D. from the University of Copenhagen. In the following years he was an assistant in various Copenhagen hospitals and in 1882 received, the gold medal for a university essay concerning the number and size of human erythrocytes in chlorotics. The following year he defended at Copenhagen his doctoral thesis on the size of the human erythrocytes.
From 1883 to 1885 Gram traveled’ in Europe, studying pharmacology and bacteriology; in 1884, while working with Friedländer in Berlin, he published his famous microbiological staining method. Gram experimented with staining pneumococci bacteria by modifying Ehrlich’s alkaline aniline solutions. Gram stained his preparations with aniline gentian violet, adding Lugol’s solution for from one to three minutes. When he then removed the nonspecific attributed stain with absolute alcohol, certain bacteria retained the color (gram-positive microbes, as was later done by Weigert.
Gram spent the next few years as a hospital assistant. In 1891 he was appointed professor of pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen, a position he maintained with inspiring diligence until 1900, although he had also become chief physician in internal medicne at the Royal Frederiks Hospital in 1892. Gram took great interest in the clinical education of young students; he was appointed ordinary professor (1900) and from 1902 to 1909 he published his fourvolume Klinisk-therapeutiske Forelaesninger, Which shows his interest in rational pharmacotherapy in clinical science.
In addition to his university post, Gram had a large private practice in internal medicine; and as chairman of the Pharmacopoeia Commission (1901–1921) he, cleared the field of many obsolete therapeutics. After his retirement in 1923 he resumed his former interest in the history of medicine.
Gram was made honorary member of Svenska Läkaresällskapet (1905), Verein für Innere Medizin (1907), and Dansk Selskab for Intern Medicin (1932). Kristiana University (now University of Oslo) awarded him the M.D, honoris causa in 1912; and the king awarded him the Dannebrog Commander’s Cross, first-class (1912) and the Golden Medal of Merit (1924).