1 1911-1940
Edward S. Harkness, 1874-1940: Princely Benefactor

14 1939
George and Charlie
2 1911
The Donor’s Hopes
15 1940s
Dana Winslow Atchley, 1892-1982
3 January 31, 1925
Birth of a Medical Center
16 1940s, 1950s
Robert Frederick Loeb, 1895-1971
4 October 12, 1928
Dedication of the Medical Center
17 1940
Blood Bank Pioneer
5 March 1929
NI Opens
18 1941
Walker Percy’41
6 1930s-1960s
Hattie E. Alexander
19 1943
Harold Brown, 1902-1988
7 1930s-1950s
Dickinson Woodruff Richards, 1895-1973
20 1943
Bacitracin’s Beginnings
8 1930s-1950s
André F. Cournand, 1895-1988
21 1945
A Unique Training Ground for Psychoanalysts
9 1930s-1960s
Virginia Kneeland Frantz, 1896-1967
22 March 1946
100,000 Babies and Counting
10 September 1931
Bard Hall Opens
23 1948
First Professor of Immunochemistry
11 1931
Rustin McIntosh, 1894-1986
24 1952
Residency Match
12 1935
Whipple Procedure and Allen Oldfather Whipple
25 1952
Virginia Apgar
13 1938
Dorothy Andersen

01 1911-1940
Edward S. Harkness, 1874-1940: Princely Benefactor
When Edward Harkness died a few days after his 66th birthday in 1940, he had already given away $100 million of his fortune. Part of the New York Times headline on the announcement of his Jan. 29, 1940, death read, “Devoted His Lifetime to Distributing Vast Wealth of His Family to Educational and Welfare Organizations.” Many of his gifts were made anonymously, so the figure may have been higher.
Mr. Harkness, whose name is still prominent on buildings at the medical center, is arguably the most important person in the medical center’s history. Columbia went looking for a hospital to form a medical center, but it was Mr. Harkness who made it happen, first by resigning from the Roosevelt Hospital board and joining the Presbyterian Hospital board after Roosevelt declined Columbia’s offer to form a union and then by donating land and money to build the original medical center and add buildings over the course of his remaining lifetime. “Except for his persistence and continued generosity,” said Robert deForest in 1921, “this vision would still have been only a vision. Except for him, the Medical Center in New York would not have been.”
When Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center was dedicated in 1928, Mr. Harkness, then 54, received an honorary degree. Without his persistence and “princely benefactions,” as the citation put it, the center might never have been built. Before they were finished, Harkness and his family — most notably his mother, Anna — gave more than $47 million to the hospital and P&S. P&S and Presbyterian Hospital were named as beneficiaries in Mr. Harkness’ will.
Mr. Harkness inherited his fortune from his father, Stephen V. Harkness, who was one of John D. Rockefeller Sr.’s early partners; from his mother, the former Anna M. Richardson; and from his brother, Charles W. Harkness. He also inherited from his mother an interest in philanthropy. At the time of her death in 1926, Anna Harkness had given more than $30 million to charities.
Stephen V. Harkness was remembered by his son through the Stephen V. Harkness Private Patient Pavilion, one of the original medical center buildings. His partnership with Rockefeller in Standard Oil started when Stephen Harkness gave his entire savings of $70,000 to Rockefeller to keep Standard Oil going. Edward Harkness invested some of his inheritance in railroad transportation but devoted most of his life to philanthropic interests.
Edward Harkness was highly regarded, the Wall Street Journal reported at his death, as “one of the few Americans who worked hard, keeping regular office hours, at his business of ‘giving money away.’” At his suite of offices on Madison Avenue he maintained a corps of secretaries and clerks, the New York Times reported, “whose job it was to sift applications for grants, investigate activities in which Mr. Harkness was interested and gather information on which he based his decisions on gifts.”
While attending Yale, Mr. Harkness found his closest friend in Dean Sage, a law student who would later be president of the board of Presbyterian Hospital and instrumental in the creation of the union that resulted in Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.
Colleges, schools, hospitals, libraries, and museums were the chief beneficiaries of Edward Harkness’ generosity, the New York Times obituary said, because of his belief that the betterment of humanity could be achieved by building good health and good education. He would ask himself about a potential project: “What will this be in 25 years?”
Mr. Harkness didn’t have to wait 25 years to see Columbia-Presbyterian reach his expectations. Shortly before his death in 1940, he told his doctor, Albert R. Lamb Jr.’40, from a bed in the Harkness Pavilion: “You know, when I came up here and sat on a broken-down fence and looked at the deserted ball park, I dreamed of a hospital and medical school here. But what has happened here surpasses anything I did or could dream of.”
02 1911
The Donor’s Hopes
When Edward S. Harkness donated land to build what would become known as Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and funds
to get construction started, he outlined his hopes for the medical center in a December 1910 letter. In 1911, Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University’s Trustees signed the first agreement about the alliance that would evolve into a medical center.
One paragraph from that agreement of April 25, 1911, sums up the purpose of the alliance: “The parties to this agreement are united in the belief that a permanent alliance between the hospital and the university will render the hospital more useful; will enable it to serve the needs of both patients and the community more efficiently; will secure the best professional service for the hospital; and will make the hospital a center of larger influence, by promoting education, by advancing knowledge, and by exemplifying the best in practice; and also that such an alliance will benefit the university by enabling it to give the best clinical instruction to its students and afford improved opportunities for advanced study.”
03 January 31, 1925
Birth of a Medical Center
The groundbreaking for Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center took place on a sunny winter day, on Jan. 31, 1925. Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler made these remarks: “The first turning of the soil on this spot is the beginning of the fulfillment of a prophecy that was made at the annual commencement of King’s College held 156 years ago. It signifies that at last the two aspects of medicine — the scientific and the philanthropic — are to be united in bonds that cannot be broken, as part of a new and vital union of organization, of purpose, and of public service.” Dean Sage, president of the Board of Managers of Presbyterian Hospital, said: “Many years ago two partners, Columbia University and the Presbyterian Hospital, conceived a vision. That vision was born of a wish to accomplish for the City of New York a broad union of the forces of medical practice, education, and research, to the end that man might reap the benefit.” The first building constructed housed P&S and Presbyterian Hospital.
04 October 12, 1928
Dedication of the Medical Center
The dedication ceremony for Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center took place Oct. 12, 1928 — Columbus Day — nearly seven months after the first patients arrived. Among those receiving honorary degrees at the ceremony was Edward Stephen Harkness, who donated land and money for the medical center. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Degrees also were awarded to Dean Sage, president of the Presbyterian Hospital board, who received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree; James Gamble Rogers, architect, who received an honorary Doctor of Science in Architecture degree; and Otto Marc Eidiltz, contractor and builder, who received an honorary Doctor of Science in Construction degree.
05 March 1929
NI Opens
James Gamble Rogers, architect of Yale University’s campus and architect for many of the original Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center buildings, designed the new building of the Neurological Institute for the institute’s move from 67th Street to 168th Street and Fort Washington Avenue. It was dedicated in March 1929 by the institute’s trustees.
The Neurological Institute was established in 1909 when eight New York physicians with expertise in the new field of neurology decided North America should have a hospital dedicated solely to treating diseases of the nervous system. Thus, the first neurological hospital in the United States was born. Its first site was a rented six-story building on East 67th Street, a former sanatorium with 54 beds, an operating room, and an outpatient clinic. By 1927, NI had grown too large for its 67th Street facility and accepted an invitation to move to Washington Heights for the new Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.
The Neurological Institute merged with Presbyterian Hospital in 1943. The building underwent major renovations in 2002 and 2003.
06 1930s-1960s
Hattie E. Alexander
One of the pediatrics department’s brightest stars during the McIntosh Era of pediatrics (1931-60) was Hattie E. Alexander, professor of pediatrics from 1958 to 1966. Her career at P&S, from 1933 to 1966, illustrates several facets of the way things were in her time: how difficult it was for a woman to advance rapidly up the academic ladder and how much more she contributed to basic science than students knew.
She interned in pediatrics at Hopkins’ Harriet Lane Home in Baltimore and at Babies Hospital in 1930-32. Appointed to Babies’ honorific Holt Fellowship in Diseases of Children in 1932-34, she rose slowly through the faculty ranks, not becoming professor until 1958 at age 57.
Concentrating from the start on infectious diseases of children, especially meningitis, she made a major contribution in her third published paper (1939), devising a rabbit antiserum against H. influenzae type b, the causative organism of a then almost uniformly fatal meningitis in infants and children. Her antiserum reduced the mortality rate to 20 percent. When the advent of antibiotics made the antiserum obsolete, she quickly mastered their use against all the bacterial meningitides.
Late in her career — the 1950s and 60s — she became a pioneer in microbial genetics. She showed that DNA genetically controls the disease-producing traits of H. influenzae. Related studies enabled her to solve the problem of streptomycin-resistant H. influenzae. Turning to viruses, she demonstrated that the RNA of the poliovirus can independently infect human cells and hypothesized that the principles controlling microbial inheritance might apply also to the control of genetic traits in human cells. Dr. Alexander’s published work, some 70 papers in the most prestigious journals, spanned 30 years, 1937-66. — From “Faculty Remembered” by Nicholas P. Christy’51, Spring 1997 issue, P&S
07 1930s-1950s
Dickinson Woodruff Richards, 1895-1973
Telling the story of an almost perfect man is difficult. How does a writer make vivid the life of a secular saint, a term the excessively modest Dickinson Richards would hate and deny? Reducing the career of “DWR” (that’s what his associates called him) to a few words is like demonstrating the vastness of an ocean by exhibiting a teacup filled with salt water.
Attending medical school at P&S, he worked simultaneously toward an M.A. degree in physiology. He graduated in 1923. Four years of medical residency at Presbyterian Hospital and a year of study in England followed. In 1928 he was appointed to the attending staff at Presbyterian and to the P&S faculty. In 1931, DWR met the brilliant French physiologist André F. Cournand and with him embarked on 40 years of studies in pulmonary and cardiac physiology, starting with the question of precisely how the lung gets oxygen from the air into the bloodstream.
With many collaborators over the years [Réjane Harvey, M. Irené Ferrer, Harry Fritts, William Briscoe, and others] they established a cardiopulmonary laboratory at Bellevue, where most of the clinical work was done. Cournand and Richards pioneered the conceptual merger of the heart and lung into a single organ. Building some of their later circulatory studies on separate work by each man, some of it as part of the National Research Council’s Committee on Shock during World War II, they assembled a large team of gifted co-workers. Samples of blood were precariously conveyed uptown by subway to Presbyterian for lab analysis. The vessel of transport was an old-fashioned leather valise carried by DWR.
Their contributions, the basis for open-heart surgery, culminated in the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1956 to Cournand, Richards, and the German physician Werner O.T. Forssmann. It is said that the modest, self-effacing DWR, who hated display and adulation, went through a short, private spell of despondency just after the prize.
The world knows most of this about DWR. It remains to catalog the activities closer to home, in New York, at Presbyterian, Bellevue, and P&S, to describe his beneficent, elevating effect on the citizens of Columbia. He was an immensely complex man. Tall, thin, seemingly austere, calm, in perfect control, he was capable of intense emotion.
In his years of “retirement” — 1961 to 1973 — he wrote eloquently on medicine and society, the education of doctors, medical ethics. He became the advocate of mercy and, as a crusader, he helped bring about with his pen the series of events that led to the building of the new Bellevue and other reforms in the New York hospital system.
— From “Faculty Remembered” by Nicholas P. Christy’51, Winter 2001 issue, P&S
08 1930s-1950s
André F. Cournand, 1895-1988
Together with Dickinson Richards and a West German physician named Werner Forssmann, André F. Cournand is considered a founding father of cardiac catheterization.
In 1929, Dr. Forssmann tested the first prototype for cardiac catheterization by threading a catheter not through the artery of an animal or even a human volunteer but through a vein in his own arm to reach his own heart.
The three were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1956 for their tool that penetrates the heart to record blood pressure and other conditions essential to the treatment of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. They were cited for their work using a thin tube to explore the interior of the functioning human heart — the precursor to today’s interventional cardiology practices. The Nobel recognized “their discoveries concerning heart catheterization and pathological changes in the circulatory system. These investigations have meant that diagnosis can now be made earlier and with greater certainty than before.”
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09 1930s-1960s
Virginia Kneeland Frantz, 1896-1967
P&S was ahead of its time during the great 1930-60 era, boasting an unrivaled faculty that included several stellar women. Among these, Virginia Frantz chose perhaps the hardest road of any: surgery, then an unheard-of career for a woman. From P&S she emerged second in her class in 1922, becoming the first woman appointed a surgical intern at Presbyterian. As a medical student she had married neurologist Angus Frantz in 1920; by 1930 there were three children. The rigors of raising a family and the advice of her seniors convinced her to eschew a career as a clinical surgeon.
Locally, at P&S and PH, Dr. Frantz — known as “VKF” — became instead an outstanding teacher and investigator. Around 1924 she began, with A.P. Stout, W.C. Clarke, and, later, Raffaele Lattes, in the new field of surgical pathology. Here her special talent lay in making the histologic slide pertinent to the clinical problem — by attending ward rounds and separately visiting the patient under study.
For 38 years she taught second-year surgery emphasizing the healing of wounds. From that course arose her textbook “Introduction to Surgery,” so successful it demanded four editions. To monitor its accuracy and induce students to read it carefully, VKF and her co-author, H.D. Harvey, mounted a continuing contest: For each typo, the two would pay the student-detective 25 cents, for each error of fact, $2.
Outside of Columbia, VKF’s research achievements made her world-famous. The Stout-Frantz-Lattes “troika” led the field in surgical pathology. She did notable early work in cancer and cystic disease of the breast and discovered that osseous metastatic lesions from thyroid cancer could take up I-131, a finding important for diagnosis and treatment. With A.O. Whipple, the famous chairman of surgery, she made pioneering studies of pancreatic insulinomas. During World War II, with Dr. Lattes she developed oxidized cellulose, a hemostatic absorbable gauze, useful enough for the military to win her an Army-Navy Citation.
When VKF died in 1967, we knew P&S lost a great teacher and a great personality. As is usual with students, we appreciated less adequately her great stature as pioneer and scientist. — From “Faculty Remembered” by Nicholas P. Christy’51, Spring 1995 issue, P&S
10 September 1931
Bard Hall Opens
After P&S moved to the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in 1928, planning started on a new dormitory on the west side of Haven Avenue at 169th Street to house medical students. The costs were estimated to be $400,000 for purchase of the land and $1.55 million for construction and furnishing. Medical center benefactor Edward S. Harkness pledged $2 million and donated the land. The planning started smoothly, but the smooth sailing did not last long.
Before architectural plans were completed, a new act known as the Multiple Dwelling Law placed restrictions on the building. Plan modifications, compromises with the Multiple Dwelling Law Commission, and amendments to the law followed to allow construction to begin in 1930.
Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler is credited with the inspiration for the location, a site near the medical center with good air and light and “a magnificent view almost priceless in value,” writes Charles N. Kent in the June 1931 Columbia University Quarterly.
Mr. Kent’s article describes in detail the interior and exterior features of the building and closes by saying: “It is impossible to estimate the mental stimulus to a student who, having spent the day working in the classroom or laboratory, returns to his quarters to look, not on the same buildings or other brick and mortar, but over the Hudson River and the Palisades with their peace and quiet giving an impressive contrast to the noise and turmoil of the big city.”
Bard Hall opened with 265 single rooms, seven suites, 10 regular apartments, and a penthouse apartment. Single rooms were used to offer needier students inexpensive rentals. Some younger members of the school’s staff were installed in the larger quarters to act as unofficial tutors — a practice that was soon abandoned.
Bard Hall’s amenities included lounges, a dining room, a cafeteria, four squash courts, a gymnasium, and a pool. Use of these facilities was restricted to members of the Bard Hall Club — the dorm’s residents and staff members who paid for admission. Some living space on the first three floors was open to women starting in 1932.
Bard Hall was named after Dr. Samuel Bard, who led the organization of the King’s College medical faculty in 1767.
11 1931
Rustin McIntosh, 1894-1986
1931 Rustin McIntosh, 1894-1986
In the years 1931 to 1960 pediatrics at P&S evolved from a fledgling group into the world’s premier teaching and research department. To call that period “The McIntosh Era” is not hyperbole. Rustin McIntosh, appointed chairman and Carpentier Professor of Pediatrics at age 36 in 1931, was born in Omaha, was educated at Harvard and Harvard Medical School, and trained in medicine at Presbyterian, then in pediatrics at Babies Hospital.
Dr. McIntosh’s chief strength lay in general pediatrics. His training of generations of pediatric house staffs became legendary: A residency at Babies was the most sought-after in the country. The pediatric house staff worshiped him. In his unassuming way, he proved himself a formidable academic politician. He succeeded in keeping Babies Hospital a separate and distinct entity, effectively resisting repeated efforts by the leadership of Presbyterian Hospital to subsume pediatrics and relegate it to a dependent status as its mere Department of Pediatrics, swallowed up in the corporate mass of the medical center. By a judicious threat to resign, he prevented P&S’s Department of Pathology from taking over the Pathology Division of Babies, by then world-famous.
By the late 1940s, the Babies resident staff had attained a stellar level of quality, playing a crucial role in teaching medical students; the program spawned many chairmen of pediatrics. When McIntosh retired in June 1960 he was regarded as the major figure in international pediatrics. — From "Faculty Remembered" by Nicholas P. Christy'51 Winter 1995 issue, P&S
12 1935
Whipple Procedure and Allen Oldfather Whipple
Allen O. Whipple, the 20th century’s major innovator in pancreatic surgery and Columbia’s most famous surgeon, chaired the surgery department at P&S and led the surgical service at Presbyterian Hospital for 25 years, from 1921 to 1946. He was a 1908 P&S graduate. His achievements and eminence stemmed from great ability of several kinds, not from a single trait or skill.
The start of the Whipple era marked a drastic change in surgery at P&S and Presbyterian. A full-time system was instituted. Up to 1921 the residents were “guests of the Trustees”; in the Manhattan medical community the hospital attending surgeons were known as a gentlemen’s club. To create a truly academic department, the Rockefeller Foundation contributed a large endowment. Although several young surgeons found themselves unable to make ends meet on academic salaries, appropriate rearrangements were made; by 1928, when the medical center opened, research programs and clinical divisions were being developed. Some of the clinical units became world-famous: plastic surgery with Jerome Webster, thyroid surgery with W.B. Parsons, vascular and thoracic surgery with George H. Humphreys II and Arthur Blakemore (portocaval shunt for hepatic cirrhosis), surgical pathology with Arthur Purdy Stout, Virginia K. Frantz, and Raffaele Lattes.
Whipple’s own contribution in pancreatic surgery began by accident. In 1935 Whipple was giving an amphitheater demonstration to distinguished American and foreign visiting surgeons on a patient thought to have gastric carcinoma; halfway through, Whipple discovered that the lesion was actually carcinoma of the pancreas, so he had to devise and execute on the spot the elaborate operation still in use: pancreatoduodenectomy, involving stomach, jejunum, duodenum, pancreas, and common bile duct (also known as the Whipple procedure). This feat required imagination, manual dexterity of a high order, and great courage. At about this time, 1935, Whipple set about excising insulin-secreting adenomas of the pancreatic islet cells associated with hypoglycemia. These experiences formed the basis for most of Whipple’s famous publications from the mid-1930s through the early 1950s. — From “Faculty Remembered” by Nicholas P. Christy’51, Fall 1998 issue, P&S
13 1938
Dorothy Andersen
In 1938, Dr. Dorothy Andersen, a Columbia pediatrician and pathologist, published the first clinical description of cystic fibrosis. At the time, children with CF usually died in infancy. Medical advances and better understanding of the disease have extended the lifespans of CF patients steadily over the years.
Dr. Andersen graduated from Johns Hopkins and completed a surgical internship at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. The hospital had a policy barring women from appointment in the surgery and pathology departments, so she joined the faculty of P&S. She became chief of pathology at Babies Hospital in 1952 and was appointed a full professor in 1958.
The pathology division, headed by Dorothy Andersen, became the world center for the study of cystic fibrosis, enhanced clinically by Paul di Sant’Agnese, who discovered, with Medicine’s Robert Darling, the famous “sweat test” for CF.
14 1939
George and Charlie
George (Peters) and Charlie (Costello) worked together at P&S for many years beginning in 1898. As doorman (Charlie) and coat room attendant (George), the two were familiar faces for many generations of students. “They knew every student who ever marched through the doors,” according to a 1942 report in Time magazine, “and kept track of their whereabouts after they graduated.”
The P&S Alumni Association created an endowed scholarship — The George and Charlie Scholarship — in 1939 after George died. Charlie worked until his retirement in 1948. Thousands of alumni contributed to the scholarship fund, which is now part of the pooled endowment and continues to aid students every year.
15
1940s
Dana Winslow Atchley, 1892-1982
Dana W. Atchley, whose association with P&S and Presbyterian comprised nearly 60 years, 1916-1976, especially deserves to be remembered as one of the country’s first generation of physician-scientist-practitioners far ahead of their time. His contribution as physician-in-charge of teaching internal medicine for decades was unique, arguably exerting, in the 1920s to 1950s, P&S’s greatest influence on the formation of young doctors.
In 1921, with Robert Loeb, Franklin Hanger, and A.R. Dochez, he moved from Hopkins to P&S when Palmer was appointed Bard Professor of Medicine. With Loeb, Benedict, E. Gutman, Richards, Driscoll, et al., he began studies of electrolyte imbalance in human disease, especially diabetic ketoacidosis, which made the group world-famous during the years 1930-1940.
During the 1940s he developed the legendary “Atchley History” form still in use, a comprehensive, systematic outline designed to elicit all relevant information from patients about their personal and family histories, prior health and illnesses, and the present illness. Going over these records with students Dr. Atchley was a merciless taskmaster. He had an eagle eye for the smallest omitted detail. In the account of the current illness he insisted that the material be organized systematically, either chronologically or thematically. In his incisive bedside analyses he had a great talent for making connections — relationships that the student had failed to notice. More important — and this was Atchley’s greatest strength —he urged students to think critically, that is, to weigh evidence, to distinguish fact from fiction in what patients said. Teaching the power to discriminate is difficult; discrimination is largely innate. But at least students can be led in right directions, can learn, up to a point, to distinguish wheat from chaff. This kind of rigorous teaching did not make Atchley popular. He made no attempt at bedside wizardry, hitting upon ostentatious snap diagnoses. Rather, he painstakingly got at the truth by the minute dissection and ordering of facts.
Atchley’s private practice was enormous and devoted; he was a master at communicating with patients, many of them eminent people who donated generously to Presbyterian. As he often said, Presbyterian Hospital was his life. Practicing in Harkness until five years before his death at 89, Dana Atchley left an indelible imprint on generations of P&S students by doing the almost impossible: He taught us how to think. — From “Faculty Remembered” by Nicholas P. Christy’51, Fall 1997 issue, P&S
16 1940s, 1950s
Robert Frederick Loeb, 1895-1971
The years 1947 to 1960 were especially bright ones in the history of P&S: Robert Loeb was Bard Professor of Medicine, chairman of medicine, and chief of Presbyterian’s medical service. In those years P&S had an immense reputation: Of the 27 departments of instruction, 14 were the acknowledged leaders in their fields. The faculty comprised dozens of luminaries: Loeb was the star.
Loeb’s career at Columbia spanned 52 years, starting in 1921 when he came to New York, fresh from internship at Massachusetts General and residency at Johns Hopkins, ending only at his death. At Harvard Medical School, in his first year, he suffered his only academic reverse: He did not do well in anatomy. He almost resigned but was persuaded by his father to stay, fulfilling everyone’s expectations by graduating magna cum laude, first in his class, in 1919.
At Columbia, the young physician soon established himself as the1939 George and Charlie most brilliant clinician and teacher in a department already famous for superb instructors. Loeb eclipsed them all, including the chairman, Walter Palmer, a learned, quietly forceful man and the main architect of the department that would become, under Loeb, the leading academic internal medicine unit in the country.
Over the 45 years of his productive research career — 1918-1963 — Loeb’s work embraced a wide range of chemical, biological, and clinical problems. His publications, numbering nearly 90, include several masterpieces and all fall into five broad categories. His earliest studies, in the 1920s, emphasized the application of physical chemistry to biology. This work, notably austere, comprised examining the role of proteins in regulating osmotic pressure, the physiologic action of potassium, alkalosis, and topics in colloidal chemistry.
From those fundamental chemical studies he turned in the 1930s to investigating the physiologic actions of deoxycorticosterone in animals. With Atchley, Richards, and others, he found that large doses of this steroid induced a diabetes-insipidus-like syndrome, with hypertension and hypokalemic alkalosis. These findings enabled Loeb to predict that the normal adrenal secretes a salt-retaining, kaliuretic hormone, a forecast borne out 20 years later by the discovery of aldosterone and by the first recognized occurrence of Conn’s syndrome: aldosteronism owing to adrenal adenoma.
At the same time, he and his group launched pioneering studies of electrolyte abnormalities in human adrenal disease and uncontrolled diabetes, work that would make Loeb — and the department — world-famous. To appreciate the novelty of this work, one must go back to the first three decades of this century, when internal medicine was largely descriptive, and science had not yet reared its head at the bedside. Loeb et al. precisely defined the electrolyte lesion of diabetic ketoacidosis, laying the scientific foundation for its management; Loeb, alone, conceived of Addisonian crisis as a form of “medical shock” due to renal loss of sodium and water. Colleagues in those days referred to Loeb and his co-workers as “millimolers,” not a term of respect but of ridicule. After those two discoveries, which spawned many practical everyday clinical applications, e.g., you could now treat Addison’s disease with table salt, they stopped laughing.
In the 1940s and 50s, by now arguably the most revered and influential internist in the United States, he found time to write many didactic articles on Addison’s disease, nephritis, diabetes and hypoglycemia, and clinical topics ranging from oxaluria to obesity. During World War II and the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations, he rendered notable public service, coordinating the national wartime efforts that yielded chloroquine as the first synthetic anti-malarial and, later, serving on the President’s Science Advisory Committee. From 1951 to 1959, Loeb further extended his pedagogic influence by co-editing, with R.L. Cecil, “A Textbook of Medicine,” presiding over three editions.
At P&S, Robert Loeb is remembered for the indelible imprint he made on generations of medical students, house officers, and members of the medical staff. While building a superb department and despite his administrative burdens and countless, demanding outside commitments, he never forgot his first responsibility and his first love: teaching students and residents, in whom he inspired respect, veneration, terror, awe, worship, and love.
An exacting taskmaster, Loeb was forgiving and supportive when someone made an honest mistake. A special feature of informal gatherings was the chance to see Loeb’s incredible memory at work. He read everything, rapidly, and remembered all of it. He knew the names of students within days of their arrival on the service. He easily recalled the minutiae of laboratory data on patients he had seen once, years before. More impressive still, he had the knack of calling up material — broad principles, small details — from his vast reading and making it creatively pertinent to the matter at hand.
He unstintingly fostered the careers of his young colleagues. No paper left the department for publication without his painstaking scrutiny, which often involved several meetings with the writer, sessions that could be excruciating. Himself endowed with an excellent prose style, he was a sharp and helpful critic.
An intense and driven man, Loeb retired in 1960, and it was pleasant to see him visibly relax in his last years. He visited medical services, worked on committees, continued in various trusteeships; characteristically, he stayed away from CPMC, wishing to leave his successor unhampered. When he died in 1973 of carcinoma of the lung, he could depart with the assurance that he left a unique legacy. His salient quality as a teacher was to imbue everyone around him with the need to stretch, to surpass his or her own best. No one knows how he did this. Partly, it was by his own example.
A P&S graduate 20 years out of school once said of Loeb: “Every time I sit down with a patient in front of me and start taking down the history, I sense that man leaning over my shoulder. And I cannot — I will not — let him down.”
— From “Faculty Remembered” by Nicholas P. Christy’51, Fall 1994 issue, P&S
Robert Loeb: A Remembrance, By Glenn Langer, P&S Class of 1954 Adapted from the memoir Dr. Langer is writing
We had been told tales about third-year clinical medicine by upperclassmen since we entered the first year. The head of the Department of Medicine was a legendary physician of world renown, Dr. Robert F. Loeb. He was one of the last giants in the field and held in awe by students, residents, staff physicians, and most of the heads of other departments at Columbia-Presbyterian.
It was rumored, and probably close to the truth, that he knew everything there was to know in the field of medicine at that time.
During the course of our clinical clerkship in medicine each of us had to present one of our patients to Dr. Loeb. This presentation was the single thing most feared during the entire four years by all Columbia students. It was generally believed that failure to do well on this presentation could result in anything from repeating the third year to outright dismissal from the school. During the week before my turn I made sure I knew the patient better than the patient knew herself. In addition I learned everything there was to know about the disease my patient had. Then I practiced until I could perform in my sleep. This presentation was the single most important event in our educational careers since we had started kindergarten, or so we had been told.
I had chosen one of my patients who had pericarditis, an inflamation of the thin sac in which the heart is suspended. It was a relatively straightforward case with an uncomplicated history. One thing I didn’t want was to have my patient interrupt in the middle of my presentation to correct some part of the history. Another thing I didn’t want to hear from Dr. Loeb was “Fiddle-dee-dee, Langer.” This would be a clear indication of his displeasure and that I had made a mistake.
All 25 classmates taking the clerkship surrounded the bed, with Dr. Loeb on one side and I on the other. My pulse rate must have been twice my patient’s as I launched into the presentation. “This is the first Presbyterian Hospital admission of this 42-year-old lady with the chief complaint of intermittent sharp chest pain of five days’ duration.”
All went without a hitch. I answered Dr. Loeb’s questions without hesitation and without getting any “Fiddle-dee-dees.”
[Dr. Langer matched to Massachusetts General Hospital for his residency and ran into Dr. Loeb on graduation day.]
I stopped by Bard Hall to return my rented cap, gown, and hood. As I was leaving, Dr. Loeb came through the door. We shook hands. He grinned and said, “Fiddle-dee-dee, Langer. We wanted you here.”
I smiled and replied, “Oh, I’ll be back someday.”
I had gotten a “Fiddle-dee-dee” from the professor but, given the occasion, I enjoyed it.

Dr. Langer, after graduating from P&S in 1954, completed a residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General and Columbia-Presbyterian and a fellowship at UCLA. He then joined the P&S faculty as assistant professor from 1963 to 1966 before returning to UCLA, where he retired in 1997.
17
1940
Blood Bank Pioneer
Dr. Charles R. Drew received a doctor of medical science degree from P&S in 1940. He was the first African-American to earn this degree in the United States. His dissertation was based on research on the properties and preservation of blood plasma in a blood bank he and Dr. John Scudder established at Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Drew was regarded as an authority on the preservation of human blood for transfusion. His research at Columbia enabled him to develop efficient ways to process and store large quantities of blood plasma. As the leading authority in the field, he organized and directed the blood-plasma programs of the United States and Great Britain in the early years of World War II.
The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Sciences in Los Angeles is named for him.
18 1941
Walker Percy’41
Among the most famous of P&S alumni is Walker Percy, who used
his P&S education in a non-traditional way. Dr. Percy descended from prominent Southern stock and was orphaned in childhood. He contracted tuberculosis after graduating from P&S and devoted his career to writing novels and essays.
The following is adapted from an excerpt from Patrick Samway’s 1997 biography, “Walker Percy: A Life.” A longer excerpt from the biography was published in the Fall 1998 issue of P&S.
When Walker entered P&S, changes were taking place that seemed fairly standard today, but they were then innovative and had far-reaching effects on the way Walker learned to diagnose the illnesses that he saw and studied.
Among new classmates, the most visible group was the contingent from Princeton. Walker made his own set of friends. They swapped stories at such local hangouts as Curran’s Armory Bar & Grill on Broadway (popularly known as “A, B & G” and transformed in “The Last Gentleman” into the Washington Heights Bar & Grill).
Classes continued at a relentless pace. How could Walker begin to synthesize all this technical knowledge? How could he articulate a context that made good sense to him? He knew that his studies had to go beyond just factual information; Walker was particularly taken by the phrase “mechanism of disease.”
Walker’s breakthrough occurred in discovering the role the patient had in responding to a disease. As he memorized more and more factual material, he would also look first and foremost at the patient to see what types of responses there were and what they indicated. The patients Walker saw then and afterward became his first literary protagonists. In 1938 he took classes on nerve injuries, brachial plexus disorders, metabolism, and physical diagnosis. Late in January, Kenneth S. Cole continued lecturing on the physiology of nerves and their receptors. For a good bit of February, Henry Alsop Riley took his students through the functions of various parts of the brain. These and similar lectures about the brain caused Walker to think about the relationship of a person to the person’s own actuating center, and eventually led Walker to look at the locus where speech originates, a subject of inquiry that fascinated him throughout his life. He would become one of the few literary writers who approached semiotics with a detailed awareness of the mechanisms of the brain.
19 1943
Harold Brown, 1902-1988
The time is October 1943. The New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune report the arrival at P&S of Dr. Harold
W. Brown. Both papers describe “a professorship in parasitology, marking the beginning of a new program in tropical medicine at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. Brown, with energy and efficiency seemingly limitless, made great changes and, in his nearly 30 years in New York, took Columbia out into the world.
Obtaining his M.D. from Vanderbilt (1933), he worked in pharmacology and the rural South (sometimes on horseback) on new drugs for hookworm. After gaining experience in malaria, he served at North Carolina and Duke, with the rank of full professor despite his youth, until 1943, when P&S had the wisdom to recruit him. From then until “retiring” in 1970, he engaged vigorously and effectively in a whirlwind of activities.
At P&S, he is best remembered for establishing in 1950 a fourth-year elective, Medicine in the Tropics. Dr. Brown would arrange externships in exotic places, raise the necessary travel funds, and send senior students abroad for two-month periods. One of the first fellows was Baruch Blumberg’51 who studied parasitic diseases in Surinam, unearthing there the first hints — that different people respond differently to the same pathogen — that led to his later discovery of Australia antigen and, hence, to vaccination against hepatitis B. In 1970, Dr. Brown’s official retirement date from Columbia, 40 fourth-year medical students were pursuing fellowships in South America, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Africa. By now, the overall number of engaged students is in the hundreds. These alumni and others have enthusiastically perpetuated Dr. Brown’s memory at P&S.
— From “Faculty Remembered” by Nicholas P. Christy’51, Spring 2002 issue, P&S

The P&S Class of 1953, to commemorate its 50-year anniversary this year, raised nearly $400,000 for creation of the Dr. Harold Brown Fellowship for Global Study. The fellowship will help third- and fourth-year students in their medical studies throughout the world. At the Class of 1953’s reunion in May, 10 members of the class described their medical experiences in Third World countries. “Their stories were amazing, dangerous, and very fulfilling,” said Stan Edelman’53, class chairman.
20 1943
Bacitracin’s Beginnings
A 7-year old girl, Margaret Tracy, was brought to Presbyterian Hospital’s emergency room in June 1943 for treatment of a leg injury she suffered when she was hit by an automobile. The injury was infected with Bacillus subtilis.
A culture taken from the wound was sent to the surgical bacteriological laboratory where its director, bacteriologist Balbina Johnson, discovered that the Staphylococcus aureus seen in the initial microscopic examination had disappeared overnight. Working with surgeon Frank L. Meleney, a 1916 P&S graduate, Ms. Johnson determined that the Staph aureus had been killed by a microbe. Discovery of the microbe led to the development of a powerful new antibiotic. The antibiotic was named Bacitracin by combining parts of the words Bacillus and Tracy, the child’s surname. It remains a widely used topical antibacterial ointment on its own or in combination with other antibacterial agents.
21 1945
A Unique Training Ground for Psychoanalysts
In 1945, the Psychoanalytic Clinic for Training and Research opened in the Department of Psychiatry at P&S. It was the first psychoanalytic institute in a university medical center to be accredited by the American Psychoanalytic Association. The center’s founders — Dr. Nolan D.C. Lewis (then chairman of the Department of Psychiatry), Dr. George Daniels, Dr. Abram Kardiner, Dr. David Levy, and Dr. Sandor Rado (the center’s first director) — believed that the future of psychoanalysis would best be served by its integration into a medical school and university. The Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, as it’s been called since 1977 when its status was raised to an intradepartmental center, has graduated more than 400 psychoanalysts who have included 16 chairs of departments of psychiatry, two medical school deans, two directors of the National Institute of Mental Health, two New York state mental health commissioners, three directors of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, three presidents of the American Psychoanalytic Association, five presidents of the American Psychiatric Association, two presidents of the International Psychoanalytical Association, and numerous editors of the American Journal of Psychiatry, the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.
Today’s Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research has five major objectives: to educate psychiatrists and clinical psychologists in the theory and practice of adult and child psychoanalysis, to encourage psychoanalytic research, to foster interdisciplinary scholarship, to provide high quality, low cost psychoanalytic treatment to the community, and to provide psychoanalytic and psychotherapy education within the medical school and the psychiatric residency and clinical psychology programs.
22
March 1946
100,000 Babies and Counting
Alan Biro, born in March of 1946, was the 100,000th baby delivered at Sloane Hospital, now administratively part of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The Sloane Baby Alumni Fund marked the occasion by contributing a $100 Victory Bond in Alan’s name to his mother, which was presented by John S. Parke, executive vice president of the hospital.
The 100,000th baby came almost 60 years after the Sloane Maternity Hospital was created by an endowment from William D. and Emily Thorn Sloane, son-in-law and daughter of William Henry Vanderbilt. Sloane and the Vanderbilt Clinic were built concurrently on 10th Avenue, opening in 1887. Both moved to 168th Street to join CPMC in 1928. At the start of the baby boom, the hospital reported its highest annual total of births in 1946 with 3,240. This record would not stand, however; the hospital delivered even more in 1947.
23 1948
First Professor of Immunochemistry
It is fitting that the first person named professor of immunochemistry at Columbia was considered the founder of the field. Michael Heidelberger joined P&S in 1928, became professor of immunochemistry in 1948, and retired in 1956 as professor emeritus of immunochemistry. He continued his research at Rutgers and NYU until his death at age 103 in 1991.
In the 1930s, he developed a vaccine against pneumonia. He also made breakthroughs with work on African sleeping sickness and lupus. He founded the field of quantitative immunochemistry by developing precise methodologies for measuring antigen-antibody reactions. He made significant contributions to the field over multiple decades of research; in fact, he published papers in every decade of the 20th century. His numerous awards included the National Medal of Science, two Lasker Awards, and the Louis Pasteur Gold Medal of the Swedish Medical Society.
24 1952
Residency Match
The P&S Class of 1952 was the first to participate in the National Resident Matching Program for appointments to medical residencies. The class not only participated in “The Match”; it also played a leading role in improving it before it started. The match program was created to replace an unregulated process by which hospitals recruited the best graduates as interns with methods that sometimes included bribery. Before the match program was developed some hospitals sought commitments from students as early as their second year of medical school.
“When the plan was explained to our graduating class,” said Jack G. Shiller’52 in an article in the Winter 1985 issue of P&S, “it became apparent that the hospitals had a tremendous edge over the interns. This occurred because of the way the computer program was set up; although the first run of the computer matched both parties’ first choice, the second run of the computer matched the hospitals’ first choice against the interns’ second choice. Subsequently, in every alternate run of the computer the hospitals had the edge and it was transparently unfair.
“When this was fully comprehended, certain troublemakers from Harvard, P&S, and Hopkins met, went back to their schools, raised funds ... and sent a long telegram to the president of the graduating class of every medical school in the country. As a result of this effort a meeting was held in Bard Hall attended by representatives of every medical school, the deans of many major medical schools, and representatives of the American Hospital Association, the Matching Plan, and other interested organizations. The students threatened to boycott the program unless the officials attended the meeting.”
The match program was changed so that a graduate would match with the hospital highest on his or her preference list that offered that student an internship.
Dr. Shiller, who lives in Ridgefield, Conn., is senior attending emeritus in pediatrics at Norwalk Hospital.
25
1952
Virginia Apgar
Virginia Apgar, a P&S graduate and longtime faculty member, may be the most celebrated figure to ever walk the halls of P&S. Long after her colleagues and students are gone, she will retain a prominent position in Columbia-Presbyterian history for her unique teaching skills, her musical aptitude, her colorful personality, and — most of all — her development of a simple scoring method to predict infant health.
She also had the historical distinction of being the first woman named a full professor at P&S and the first professor of anesthesiology. A 1933 P&S graduate, she completed two years of a surgery internship before concluding that a woman could not earn a living as a surgeon. She turned to the emerging field of anesthesiology, heading the anesthesiology division until focusing on anesthesia in childbirth in the late 1940s. She was on the faculty of P&S from 1935 until 1959 and took part in the delivery of more than 17,000 babies.
Internationally recognized as a specialist in the medical problems of newborns, she developed the Apgar Score in 1952. This standard assessment of newborns, used by hospitals throughout the world, measures five body functions to determine, within 60 seconds after birth, if any life-saving assistance is needed. Its importance has been reaffirmed many times since she reported the scoring method in 1952. According to legend, the idea for the score was born in 1949, when Columbia anesthesiologists were eating breakfast together and a student asked about the need to evaluate the newborn. Dr. Apgar grabbed the nearest piece of paper — a “Please bus your own trays” sign — and wrote down the five points that became the score. The score was presented at a meeting in 1952 and published in 1953.
An accomplished cellist and violist, she built her own stringed instruments. From that interest comes one of the Apgar legends that surfaced after her death in 1974. The New York Times reported that Dr. Apgar and another musician — Carleen Hutchins — removed a shelf from a phone booth in Harkness Pavilion in 1957 to make the back of a viola. The shelf was made of perfectly seasoned curly maple but Dr. Apgar had been unsuccessful in getting the wood through proper channels so the two women devised a plot to steal it. They went to great pains to replace the shelf with wood stained to resemble the original, but when they found the piece of wood they brought to replace the shelf was too long, they had to use a women’s lounge to shorten the replacement piece with a saw. Dr. Apgar, standing guard, told a nurse who heard the sounds coming from the lounge, “It’s the only time repairmen can work in there.” The viola that resulted was willed to Ms. Hutchins.
In 1994, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 20-cent stamp with her likeness in its Great Americans Series. Joe Butterfield, a Colorado pediatrician and one of Dr. Apgar’s many friends, launched a campaign for a stamp, bringing renewed attention to the Apgar legacy. Especially throughout the 1980s, when the campaign for an Apgar stamp was most active, articles about the stamp, Dr. Apgar, and the famous scoring system that bears her name were published in publications from coast to coast.
Virginia Apgar: A Remembrance
BY HISAYO O. MORISHIMA, M.D., PH.D., RETIRED P&S PROFESSOR OF ANESTHESIOLOGY
Though I am in no way Dr. Apgar’s equal, our career paths were similar: Both of us started with surgical training then changed to anesthesiology, then to specialize in obstetrical anesthesiology and perinatology. Also, we were both crazy about stamp collecting, fishing, gardening, and classical music.
I had more chances to see Virginia the year of her death than the year before. At a memorial service for the wife of Dr. E.M. Papper, Virginia seemed to swim through the packed crowd of mourners to where I was standing. She whispered in my ear, “When are you going to join the American Philatelic Society? I don’t know how many times I’ve told you I’ll write you a letter of recommendation.” I kept putting it off. She always had something to say about stamps. She would close her letters with the words “Philatelically” or “Anesthesiologically” instead of “Sincerely,” and would sign them in the way that had always been her trademark: a smiley-face and “V.A.”
Right until the end, she talked about work, about research laboratories, and, of course, about stamps. She told me that she couldn’t understand why I was hesitant to join the Philatelic Society. That was the last time I ever spoke to Virginia. The night before she was scheduled to have exploratory surgery, my most respected teacher and dear friend, Dr. Virginia Apgar, passed quietly from this world while in her sleep. When I returned home in a state of shock from hearing the news, there was a letter waiting for me from the American Philatelic Society. “Congratulations! Thanks to a letter of recommendation we received from Dr. Virginia Apgar, we have selected you for membership in our society. Your admission fee and dues for one year are a gift from Dr. Apgar.” I have no words to express how moved I was by Virginia’s last gift to me.
— Adapted from remembrance published in Fall 1994 issue, P&S

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