P&S Journal: Fall 1997, Vol.17, No.3
Dr. Abbie Ingalls Knowlton, who was educated and trained at Columbia-Presbyterian then devoted her career to the medical center, becoming one of the most respected and beloved physicians and scientists of her generation, died of ovarian cancer on July 15, 1997, at age 79.
One of the leading women of her generation in American medicine, Dr. Knowlton committed her life to the human species, and to the care and study of what ails it. During her 50-year tenure at Columbia, she made significant contributions to the understanding of renal insufficiency, the pituitary adrenal axis, the role of aldosterone in normal physiology, and the role of the kidney and renin in normal blood pressure control.
Her clinical studies of Addison's disease in diabetes mellitus were recognized as predictive of the development of the knowledge of autoimmunity in endocrine disorders, and her scientific contributions to internal medicine reflect the evolution of the understanding of adrenal, pituitary, and renal physiology. Dr. Knowlton was considered a national and international authority on the management of patients with Addison's disease.
Dr. Knowlton was born in New York City in 1918 and graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1938 as "one of the very best medical candidates we have had" according to the dean of her college. She began her medical career that year as one of six women admitted to P&S. Upon graduating in 1942, she trained at Presbyterian Hospital for the next four years and became the first female chief resident in medicine at Presbyterian Hospital. She became an instructor in 1947 and rose through the ranks to clinical professor of medicine. At the time of her death she was clinical professor emeritus of medicine at P&S.
Dr. Knowlton was revered as a consummate physician who believed that the basic business of physicians is the one-to-one relationship with the patient. To her, few things were more satisfying than the human dimension of that extraordinary partnership and trust. Her care of patients was described by colleagues as "transcending simple scholarship."
In 1991 she was selected by her peers as president of the Presbyterian Hospital Practitioners Society. She was honored as Practitioner of the Year and also received the Arnold Gold Foundation Award given to a distinguished physician "who has demonstrated compassionate and devoted patient care and who has served as a humanistic role model for students and young physicians."
Dr. Knowlton firmly believed that the only thing that can save this world is education, and teaching by example was her remedy of choice. In addition to her superb work as a physician, Dr. Knowlton contributed enormous amounts of time teaching medical students and house staff and was universally admired and venerated by generations of medical school students.
Dr. Knowlton managed to balance the joys and responsibilities of family and medical life while raising her son, Thomas, and daughter, Mary, with the staunch support of her husband, Dr. Kenneth Calder'44, the distinguished psychiatrist and past president of the American Psychoanalytic Society.
John Lindenbaum, M.D.
As a clinical investigator, he earned renown for vitamin B-12 and folate metabolism studies, and his research benefited patients with sickle cell anemia, vitamin B-12 deficiency, and heart disease. His work changed the standard therapy for sickle cell anemia and led to revisions in FDA testing procedures to ensure consistent manufacturing--and efficacy--of digoxin to prevent heart failure.
Dr. Lindenbaum recently established a fund to bring minority leaders in the field of medicine to Columbia-Presbyterian. The fund has been renamed in Dr. Lindenbaum's memory, and contributions may be sent to the Dr. John Lindenbaum Fund in the Department of Medicine.
Thomas V. Santulli, M.D.
He taught at P&S for more than 40 years and was director of pediatric surgery at Babies & Children's Hospital for 25 years, training many future leaders in the field. Nine of his former trainees became directors of pediatric surgery at major academic medical centers. The Santulli Society, formed by his former trainees, convenes at national meetings.
When he retired in 1983, the pediatric surgery library and conference room at Babies & Children's Hospital were named in his honor. He received Babies & Children's Hospital's centennial medal as "Father of Pediatric Surgery." His legacy also is reflected in the Santulli lectureship in pediatric surgery.
Edward B. Schlesinger, M.D.
Dr. Edward B. Schlesinger, the Stookey Professor Emeritus of Neurological Surgery and former chairman of neurological surgery, died June 1, 1997. He served on the P&S faculty since 1946, when he became research assistant in the Department of Neurology. He later became research associate in neurological surgery and assistant and associate professor of clinical neurological surgery.
From 1949 to 1963, Dr. Schlesinger directed cancer research projects at P&S, including localization of brain tumors using radioactive tagged isotopes, uptake of radioisotopic tagged carriers by brain tumors, extracranial location, tracking of isotopic techniques in diagnosis, and evaluation of therapy of central nervous system disorders. In 1965, he established the Isotope Laboratory with support from the John A. Hartford Foundation.
He became the first Byron Stookey Professor of Neurological Surgery, chairman of neurological surgery, and director of the neurological surgery service in 1973.
OTHER FACULTY DEATHS
DeWitt Leslie Crandell, M.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harlem Hospital Center, died Oct. 1, 1996.
Sven Kister, M.D., associate clinical professor of surgery, died Feb. 3, 1997.
Jules G. Waltner, M.D., professor emeritus of clinical otolaryngology, died in June 1997.