Anigstein, Ludwik (1891–1975)

By: Natalie Ornish

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: May 11, 2016

Ludwik Anigstein, medical scientist, was born in Warsaw, Poland, on February 2, 1891, to Isidore and Helen (Steinkalk) Anigstein. His father sent him to the University of Heidelberg, where he graduated magna cum laude with a Ph.D. in natural sciences in 1913. His studies included a year's study of marine zoology in France. He enrolled at the University of Dorpat, Estonia, in 1914 and earned an M.D. diploma in 1915. He then went to the University of Poznan in Poland for a second medical degree, which was granted in 1923. That same year he attended the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and received a postgraduate certificate. Between 1915 and 1939 Anigstein served the Thai and Liberian governments and the League of Nations as an expert in tropical medicine, attended international congresses, and worked with the Soviet Red Cross.

He specialized in parasitology and tropical medicine. He worked as a parasitologist with the State Institute of Hygiene in Warsaw, Poland, from 1919 until 1940, when he immigrated to the United States as a refugee from the Nazis. The Jewish Emigré Committee in New York and the Hooper Foundation found him a temporary position with the University of California; that same year he accepted a permanent position as a research associate at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, where he later became an assistant, then associate, professor. He became a United States citizen in 1945. After the death of his wife, Luba Esther (Heller), a pediatrician, he married Dorothy Whitney, a laboratory scientist with whom he coauthored numerous research papers. He was the father of a son and daughter by his first marriage.

Anigstein wrote or shared in the writing of nearly 2,000 articles and papers for scientific journals. He also coauthored a textbook. His first great contribution came during studies of rickettsial diseases borne by ticks. He discovered that one of the rickettsiae caused a disease that infected hundreds of soldiers during World War II. Anigstein also did pioneering work in antibiotics. His discovery of a blood-derived antibiotic made news on two continents and provided material for the first official report on the use of blood as a source of antibiotics (antibiotics had previously been extracted only from molds or bacteria). He served as director of the UTMB Rickettsial Laboratory from 1941 to 1962 and of the UTMB Tissue Immunity Laboratory from 1962 to 1970.

Even though he was older than fifty when the United States entered World War II, Anigstein joined the Texas State Guard in 1943 and became a major in the infantry and an executive officer of the Forty-ninth Battalion. At the end of the war he returned to Poland to teach on communicable diseases with the United Nations Medical Teaching Mission. In 1950 he acted as a consultant for the Medical Division of the United States Atomic Energy Commission at the Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Studies.

In 1955 Anigstein received the James W. McLaughlin Faculty Fellowship to study tropical diseases in Peru and Brazil. In 1956 the Royal Society of Health in London elected him to membership. In 1961 he served as the Gabriel Kempner Visiting Professor to the University of Hamburg. He died in 1975 in Galveston.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Natalie Ornish, “Anigstein, Ludwik,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

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November 1, 1994
May 11, 2016

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