Who was Hans Christian Gram? Google celebrates microbiologist 166th birthday with doodle

Google Doodle honours Hans Christian Gram for contributions to microbiology

Google Doodle honours Hans Christian Gram for contributions to microbiology

Google is celebrating the 166th birth anniversary of microbiologist Hans Christian Joachim Gram with a doodle. The Doodle was illustrated by Mikkel Sommer, a guest artist from Denmark. Gram is best known for pioneering the method of the Gram stain to identify bacteria. During his time at the university, Gram served as an assistant in botany to the zoologist Japetus Steenstrup. Scientists, doctors and medical technicians still use this method to identify and classify bacteria into different types. Hans Christian Gram retired from the University of Copenhagen in 1923, and died on November 14, 1939. The Gram staining technique is extensively used even after eight decades of his death, engraving his legacy in the annals of the history of microbiology. After his graduation, Gram travelled through Europe to study bacteriology and pharmacology. Eventually, his travels led him to work in the lab of Karl Friedländer, a German microbiologist.

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.

Gram-positive bacteria appear purple under a microscope because their cell walls are so thick that the solvent can not penetrate them, while Gram-negative bacteria have thinner cell walls that allow the solvent to wash away the stain.

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Gram staining can help tell types of bacteria apart. The cells that were considered to be Gram-positive, have more peptidoglycan and less lipid content than the bacteria that are deemed Gram-negative. The Gram staining technique has single-handedly helped diagnose countless bacterial infections - notably, Streptococcus pneumococci, a Gram-positive bacterial pathogen that causes a variety of life-threatening illnesses.

Gram published his findings in a scholarly journal in 1884, and the terms "Gram-positive" and "Gram-negative" came to be coined.

Little did he know it would still be used more than a hundred years later.

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