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Erik Waaler (1903–1997): one of the founders of rheumatological immunology who discovered rheumatoid factor
  1. Roland Jonsson
  1. Broegelmann Research Laboratory, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Professor Roland Jonsson, Broegelmann Research Laboratory, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, Bergen 5021, Norway; roland.jonsson{at}

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Erik Waaler was born at Hamar, Norway on 22 February 1903 and died in Bergen on 3 March 1997 (figure 1). He graduated from the Medical Faculty, University of Oslo, in 1927. Thereafter, he spent some time as intern at Hamar Hospital, as well as general practitioner. Waaler started his scientific career in 1930 at the Army Laboratory for Bacteriology in Oslo. There he got training in bacteriology and carried out the studies which led to his doctoral dissertation, ‘On the Dissociation of the Dysentry Bacillus’, with creation as Doctor Medicinae in 1935. In the mean time, he worked as resident in internal medicine for 2 years at Aker’s Hospital and the University Hospital in Oslo, Rikshopitalet. In 1936, he obtained a university scholarship in clinical bacteriology, and he spent part of that time at Columbia University in New York.

Figure 1

Portrait of Erik Waaler.

Probably the most exciting moment in Waaler’s academic life took place in 1937 when he was working at Ullevål Hospital, Department of Pathology in …

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  • Handling editor Josef S Smolen

  • Contributors RJ is the sole author.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, conduct, reporting or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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