Martin Silberberg (1895-1966)
Ruth Silberberg (1906-1997)

Ruth and Martin Silberberg, 1949
Ruth and Martin Silberberg, 1949

Martin Silberberg, the son of a country physician, was born in Rybnik, Germany in 1895 and received his medical degree from the University of Breslau in 1919. After serving internships in various military hospitals he joined the department of Pathology at his alma mater in 1920. In 1928-29, Silberberg was awarded a Rockefeller Traveling Fellowship, which took him to the United States and Japan. While in the U.S., Silberberg visited the University of Chicago and Washington University, where he worked with noted pathologist, Leo Loeb.

Ruth Silberberg was born in Kassel, Germany in 1906. After receiving her medical degree from the University of Breslau in 1931, Silberberg joined the department of pathology at the University. In 1933 she married her former professor, Martin Silberberg. Each also held positions at the Jewish Hospital in Breslau (Martin as Chief of Laboratories and Ruth as a pathologist) in 1933-34.

Sensing the emerging danger of Nazism, the Silberbergs made plans to leave Germany in 1934, calling upon the contacts Martin had made while a Rockefeller fellow. The Silberbergs left for Canada, where they joined the department of Pathology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1937 they moved to St. Louis to join the department of Pathology at the Washington University School of Medicine. From 1941 to 1944 the Silberbergs lived in New York, working in the department of Pathology at New York University.

Both Ruth and Martin Silberberg returned to Washington University as instructors in Pathology in 1944. They often collaborated on research until Martin Silberberg’s death in 1966. Their research interests concerned skeletal growth and aging, hormonal and nutritional factors and the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis; they also researched the role of age in carcinogenesis and in leukomogenesis.

Ruth Silberberg continued her research on the pathology of aging at Washington University School of Medicine after her husband’s death. In 1975 she became professor emeritus of Pathology and lecturer; a few years later Ruth Silberberg emigrated to Israel, where she remained active in medical research until her death in 1997.

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