CodeDS/UK/21
Person NameEconomo; Constantin (1876-1931); Professor; physician
Dates1876-1931
TitleProfessor
Epithetphysician
HistoryConstantin Freiherr Economo von San Serff was born in Braila, Romania, to Greek parents on 21st August 1876. In 1877, the family moved to Trieste. He was a good student, speaking several languages fluently. In 1906, his family was ennobled and Economo obtained the title "Freiherr".

At the request of his father, Economo began his study of mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic University of Vienna in 1893 but switched to medicine after two years. His first scientific work, "Zur Entwicklung der Vogelhypophyse" ("On the Development of the Pituitary Gland in Birds") was published in 1899. Economo worked as an assistant for Sigmund Exner from 1900 until 1903. He received his medical degree in 1901.

From 1903 to 1904, he was a resident at the Clinic of Internal Medicine under Carl Wilhelm Hermann Nothnagel. Subsequently, he travelled through Europe for two years and worked for several scientists. When he returned to Vienna he worked as an assistant at the Clinic for Psychiatry and Nervous Diseases at Vienna's General Hospital. In 1921, von Economo was appointed Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology. He was to conduct his research in the Clinic for Psychiatry and Nervous Diseases in Vienna for the rest of his life, but only in 1931 was he made head of a newly established department of brain research. Tragically, he would die only five months later on 21st October 1931.

He is best known for his work on encephalitis lethargica. This encephalitis occurred in epidemic form worldwide from 1915 until about 1924. Von Economo described in detail the symptoms, pathology and histology of the disease which was soon called Von Economo's Disease. He published his findings in an article of 1917, "Die Encephalitis lethargica," and in the monograph "Die Encephalitis lethargica, ihre Nachkrankheiten und ihre Behandlung" in 1929.

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