Hans Christian Gram: All you need to know about Danish Microbiologist

Google celebrates legendary microbiologist Hans Christian Gram turning 166 in todays Doodle

He left a lasting mark on microbiology thanks to the pioneering staining technique he invented, known as the Gram stain, which is why he's being celebrated today. The handsome art in the doodle was created by Mikkel Sommer, a Danish guest artist.

The work that gained Gram an worldwide reputation was Hans Christian Gram's development of a method of staining bacteria, to make them more visible under a microscope. Scientists, doctors and medical technicians still use this method to identify and classify bacteria into different types.

Gram was the son of a professor of jurisprudence Frederik Terkel Julius Gram and mom Louise Christiane Roulund. Gram stain is a scientific method used to identify and characterise bacteria. In his early life, Gram was focused on natural science but after earning a B.A.at the Copenhagen Metropolitan School and working as an assistant in botany at a zoo, he became interested in medicine. After his graduation, Gram travelled through Europe to study bacteriology and pharmacology. His travels eventually led him to the lab of Karl Friedländer, a German microbiologist.

Gram staining can help tell types of bacteria apart. Image credit thisonevsthatone
Gram staining can help tell types of bacteria apart. Image credit thisonevsthatone

Gram noticed that treating a heat-fixed smear of bacterial cells with a crystal violet stain, followed by an iodine solution and an organic solvent, revealed differences in the structure and biochemical function of various samples.

The Gram-staining method gave rise to the gram-positive and gram-negative classification of bacteria, with colouring having different effects on the cell walls of different types of bacteria. He is best remembered for his bacteria staining technique in 1884 - a seminal innovation essential for observing bacteria under a microscope. The cells that were considered to be Gram-positive, have more peptidoglycan and less lipid content than the bacteria that are deemed Gram-negative.

He published these findings the very same year in a scholarly journal and included a modest dislaimer that his findings are defective and imperfect but he hoped it would turn out to be useful in the hands of future investigators.


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