Report by Dr Arpan K Banerjee
Chair British Society for the History of Radiology
November 8 1895 was the day when Rontgen a relatively unknown Physics Professor
at Wurzburg ,Germany conducted his epoch making experiment in his laboratory late
on a Friday evening . The rest of the story has now become etched in medical history.
Today it is difficult to imagine modern hospitals without radiology departments.
None of this would have been possible without his discovery of X-
On Nov 8 2015 a celebratory event to mark the 120th anniversary of the discovery
was held in the lecture hall of the Institute of Anatomy Wurzburg. It is here that
the distinguished Professor of Anatomy , Albert Von Kolliker worked and discovered
mitochondria and subsequently became a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and
Copley Medallist. It was his hand that was X-
The weekend of celebratory events in Wurzburg included a scientific meeting of the
International Society of the History of Radiology celebrating Rontgen’s discovery
held in the Rontgen memorial building on the Rontgenring road. This building luckily
escaped the Allied bombing of Wurzburg which destroyed 90% of the city in 1945.
This building consists of Rontgen’s original laboratories and an exhibition space
and is now part of the new University of applied sciences, Wurzburg and displays
material relating to Rontgen’s life and provides an insight into the turn of the
twentieth century physics. The tour of the famous laboratories was one of the highlights
of the weekend. It was in this very room that X-
A range of lectures were presented on a variety of topics including the development of radiology in Wurzburg, Rontgen’s birthplace in Remscheid and an interesting presentation by S Popp on the Rontgen memorial site itself. The memorial site consists of the laboratories Rontgen used at the University of Wurzburg and is now under the care of the newer University of Applied Sciences Wurzburg Scheinfurt. The road on which this building stands was renamed the Rontgenring in 1909 in Rontgen’s honour. In the afternoon a variety of talks were presented on topics ranging from Hounsfield, the Braggs, early uroradiology to shoe fluoroscopy. The meeting was organised by the International Society for the History of Radiology, Roentgen Memorial site and the German Roentgen Society.
Wurzburg is also home to the famous Juliushospital founded in 1576 and an accompanying winery the profits which have enabled the hospital to flourish throughout the years. In the early nineteenth century this hospital had one of the world’s most advanced operating theatres.
Wurzburg University is one of Germany’s oldest universities and boasts 14 Nobel Laureates
including Rontgen and Fischer, Nernst and Max von Laue the discoverer of x-
The city honoured its famous son with a front page article in the local paper and celebrations were held on the evening of Nov 8 to which delegates and local dignitaries were invited.
The weekend was a truly humbling, informative and inspiring experience for the members of the British Society for the History of Radiology who were lucky enough to attend.
First published Dec 2015 Rad Magazine UK
Science Historian and Author, Oxford University
Dr Allan Chapman is a historian of science at Oxford University. His special areas
of research lie in the history of medicine and of astronomy. He came to Oxford to
do his doctoral research, and has been here since 1972, attached to Wadham College,
and since 2009, to Christ Church as well. In 2014, as part of its bi-
This exciting lecture will cover the early days of radiology and radiotherapy including Roentgen’s and Marie Curie’s important pioneering contributions.
ADMISSION BY TICKET ONLY, OBTAINABLE FROM: Dr Arpan K Banerjee Consultant Radiologist by email firstname.lastname@example.org NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 17, 2016 Tickets are free of charge. A retiring collection will be taken with a suggested donation of £5.
Annual General Meeting 6:15pm
(BSHR members only) Light refreshments from 6pm.
Above: Rontgen’s laboratory
Right: The Rontgen Memorial site