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Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2009;121(23-24):746-9. doi: 10.1007/s00508-009-1280-x.

Ludwig Haberlandt--A pioneer in hormonal contraception.

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Clinical Department of Pediatrics IV, Division of Neonatology, Neuropediatrics and Inherited Metabolic Diseases, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.


Ludwig Haberlandt (1 February 1885 - 22 July 1932), pioneer in hormonal contraception, was born in Graz, where he graduated from the university in 1909 in medicine summa cum laude and began his career as a physiologist. The idea of temporary hormonal contraception in the female body entered his mind in February 1919, when he was already Professor of Physiology in Innsbruck. He pursued his project ambitiously and by 1921 demonstrated temporary hormonal contraception in a female animal by transplanting ovaries from a second, pregnant, animal. From 1923, after further successful scientific work in this field, he began highlighting the importance of clinical trials in presentations. From then, he was criticized by his colleagues, who accused him of hindering unborn life. His idea was contradictory to the moral, ethic, religious and political agendas of that time in Europe. In 1927 official reports escalated, his family was ostracized by the local population, and Ludwig Haberlandt refused any further interviews. Against all opposition, in 1930 he began clinical trials after successful production of a hormonal preparation, Infecundin, by the G. Richter Company in Budapest, Hungary. Although at the peak of his scientific career, he was unable to pursue other scientific agendas because of the disputed contraception project. After he committed suicide, on 22 July 1932, scientific discussion about hormonal contraception ceased until 1970 when scientists began referring to his earlier medical and scientific work.

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