Karl Joachim Harpuder grew up in a Jewish family in Munich.1 He studied medicine in his hometown, where passed the state examination in 1917.2 He found his first position at the Munich Institute of Physiology. He worked as an assistant physician at the Medical Clinic of Kiel University Hospital under Alfred Schittenhelm (1874-1954) from 1921. He was appointed director of the Research Institute for Hydrology and Metabolism in Wiesbaden in 1925.3
Harpuder was dismissed in 1933. He then left Germany and attained the position of "resident fellow" at Guy's Hospital in London as a scientist.
He and his wife Auguste set sail for New York from Liverpool aboard a passenger ship on May 5, 1934.4 This may have been due to the requirements the English authorities placed on obtaining a license to practice medicine, while the state of New York recognized the German appointment in 1934 without further ado.
Harpuder applied for U.S. citizenship in New York as early as October 1934.5 He worked at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center in the Bronx from 1935, rising to the position of director of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He retired in 1961, but remained active as a "consultant" at the hospital. He was also a "senior consultant" at the Veterans Administration Hospital in the Bronx, as well as a consultant to the United States Public Health Service.
In addition to his clinical work, Harpuder was a dedicated university lecturer, teaching at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York Medical College, New York University, and Albert Einstein Medical College. He was also an associate editor of the American Journal of Physical Medicine and active in professional politics as president of the New York Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Eastern Section of the American Congress of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. For his many contributions to the field of rehabilitation medicine, the American Congress awarded him the Gold Key Award in 1957.6
Karl Harpuder passed away in New York on April 5, 1974 at the age of 80.