Heinrich Köbner

Heinrich Koebner (1838 – 1904)

Heinrich Koebner (1838 – 1904) was a German dermatologist.

One of the founders of German dermatology, Koebner first described the isomorphic phenomenon bearing his name Köbner phenomenon

Köbner worked widely with syphilis, leprosy,mycosis fungoides, pemphigus, and drug related erythematous eruption. He proposed the term epidermolysis bullosa in 1872.


  • Born 2 December 1838 Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland)
  • 1859 – Medical doctorate, University of Breslau (University of Wrocław from 1945)
  • 1860 – Worked in Vienna with Ferdinand Hebra (1816-1880)
  • 1861 – Founded ‘Dr Köbnerschen Instituts für Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten‘ a dermatology clinic where he treated his patients for free.
  • 1869 – Habilitated (venia docendi), University of Breslau
  • 1872 – First president of the Berlin Dermatological Society
  • 1876 – Director, policlinic for syphilis and diseases of the skin, University of Breslau
  • 1893 – Member of the German Academy of Natural Scientists, Leopoldina
  • Died 3 September 1904 Charlottenberg

Medical Eponyms

  • Köbner (Koebner) phenomenon (Presented 1872, published 1876)
  • Köbner syndrome: Epidermolysis bullosa simplex, Koebner type (EBS-K) – Now termed ‘Generalized epidermolysis bullosa simplex‘ or ‘EBS-gen intermed‘. The term ‘epidermolysis bullosa‘ was first introduced by Köbner in 1886 to describe an hereditary, non-scarring, blistering skin disease. [1886;12:21-2]

Major Publications


Köbner or  Koebner: Original German spelling (Köbner) has mainly been replaced with Koebner in the medical literature.  When German umlauts ä, ö and ü are  converted to non-umlaut derivatives, they are usually written ae, oe, and ue respectively. Alphabetized variations on the same name such as (Müller, Mueller or Köbner, Koebner) are grouped together [unlike Swedish and Finnish where the umlauted vowels come at the end of the alphabet (…X,Y,Z,Å,Ä,Ö)]


  • Obituary: Professor Heinrich Köbner. Br Med J 1904;2:783
  • Portrait: Koebner Heinrich. Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego
  • Kuner N1, Hartschuh W, Khan-Durani B. [Heinrich Köbner and the “isomorphic phenomenon”. History and review of the literature] Hautarzt. 2003 Mar;54(3):274-8. [PMID 12634998]

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the person behind the name

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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