Olga Immerslund (1907-1987)

Olga Imerslund (1907 – 1987) was a Norwegian paediatrician.

Imerslund is best known for her contribution in the identification of the Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome (1945-1956); a rare autosomal recessive syndrome caused by selective malabsorption of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) with megaloblastic anaemia (juvenile pernicious anaemia).

  • 1907 – Born 9 April in Vang, Norway
  • 1936 – Attended University of Oslo
  • 1941-1942 – Assistant physician at Göteborg Barnsjukhus
  • 1943-1945 – Lived and worked in Edinburgh
  • 1947 – Worked at Ullevål sykehus (Oslo University Hospital), Oslo
  • 1948-1955 – Worked at Rikshospitalet, Oslo with a year in Haukeland sykehus, Bergen
  • 1956-1957 – Completed a scholarship in USA
  • 1959-1961 – Head physician at the Scandinavian teaching Hospital in Korea
  • 1987 – Died 23 August

Medical Eponyms
Imerslund-Gräsbeck syndrome (1959)

[Also known as: Juvenile megaloblastic anaemia; Megaloblastic anaemia 1 (MGA 1); Imerslund anaemia; Selective vitamin B12 (cobalamin) malabsorption with proteinuria]

Rare autosomal recessive syndrome caused by selective malabsorption of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) with megaloblastic anaemia (juvenile pernicious anaemia). The condition appears in childhood, and is usually responsive to parenteral vitamin B12 therapy. Additional features include failure to thrive and grow; multiple infections and neurological damage. Mild proteinuria with no signs of kidney disease is present in around half of patient.

In the University Pediatric Department, Rikshospitalet, Oslo, during the years 1945-56, I had the opportunity to study a group of chronic megaloblastic anemias which seem to represent a disease sui generis not separated as such before. The purpose of the present work has been to describe these cases; investigate the nature of the proteinuria found in 8 of the patients; to exclude other causes of megaloblastic anemia; and investigate the genetic aspects of the disease.

Imerslund 1959

Two cases of juvenile megaloblastic anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency are described. Both patients had benign proteinuria and were resistant to intrinsic factor. Vitamin B,, was not absorbed from the intestine. It is suggested that the association of juvenile vitamin B12 malabsorption and proteinuria represents a congenital syndrome….Since the submission of this paper, Dr. Imerslund’s publication (Acta Paediatr. Suppl. 119, 1960) has reached us. Her study establishes the familial incidence of this syndrome.

Gräsbeck 1960

Major Publications

Personal communication: With great thanks to Tove Lill Bjaarstad of Oslo, Norway for the detailed additional information.



  • Olga Imerslund. Slekt Og Data
  • Olga Imerslund. Nasjonalbiblioteket, bokhylla: Norges leger: 1966 B. 3: Hole, -Madshus, R
  • Bibliography. Imerslund, Olga. WorldCat Identities

Eponymous term

Graduated from Cardiff Medical School in 2017 with MBBCh and BSc in Psychology and Medicine. Currently working as a doctor in the emergency department at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, Australia.

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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