Virchow studied medicine in Berlin at the military academy of Prussia, where he graduated in 1843. He became professor in 1847. Due to political reasons, he moved to Würzburg two years later, where he worked on anatomy. In 1856, he returned to Berlin.
One of Virchows most famous rules is Omnis cellula e cellula ("every cell originates from another cell"). This relates to his findings that not the whole organism, but only certain cells or groups of cells can become sick. Virchow founded the medical disciplines of cellular pathology, comparative pathology (comparison of diseases common to humans and animals), anthropology and ethnology.
Virchow also worked as a politician to improve the health care conditions for the Berlin citizens, namely working towards modern water and sewer systems.