Robert Remak (26 July 1815 – 29 August 1865) was a Jewish Polish/German embryologist, physiologist, and neurologist, born in Posen, Prussia, who discovered that the origin of cells was by the division of pre-existing cells. As well as several other key discoveries.
According to historian Paul Weindling, Rudolf Virchow, one of the founders of modern cell theory, plagiarized the notion that all cells come from pre-existing cells from Remak. Remak had reached the conclusion after observing red blood cells from chicken embryos in various stages of division. He then confirmed that the phenomenon existed in the cell of every frog's egg immediately after fertilization, proving that this was a universal phenomenon and finally explaining the reason for the results of tests by Louis Pasteur which had previously proved that there exists no spontaneous generation of life.
Dr. Remak obtained his medical degree from Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin in 1838 specializing in neurology. He is best known for reducing Karl Ernst von Baer's four germ layers to three: the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. He also discovered unmyelinated nerve fibers and the nerve cells in the heart sometimes called Remak's ganglia. He studied under Johannes Muller at the University of Berlin.
Despite his accomplishments, because of his Jewish faith, he was repeatedly denied full professor status, and finally late in life was appointed assistant professor, being the first Jew to teach in that institute. Even then he was never fully recognized for his discoveries.
His son Ernst Julius Remak was also a neurologist and his grandson was the mathematician Robert Remak who died in Auschwitz in 1942.