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Historical Biosketches

Herrman Blumgart

Herrman Blumgart was born in 1895 in Newark, NJ to immigrant parents from Bavaria. He attended Lafayette College, Harvard College, and then Harvard Medical School. After residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Blumgart. completed a traveling fellowship in London with Thomas Lewis, an eminent cardiologist. Returning to Boston, Blumgart took a position in the Thorndike Memorial Laboratory working closely with Francis Peabody. During the course of his career, he became the Director of Medical Research at Beth Israel Hospital in 1928, as well as Physician in Chief of Beth Israel Hospital in 1946.

Blumgart is often called "the father of nuclear medicine," as he performed the first application of radioactive tracers to study the velocity of circulating blood. In fact, his first "patient" was himself! He injected his own vein with radium C (a mixture of lead and bismuth isotopes) and monitored the time of blood flow from arm to arm with an electroscope. This was both the first nuclear medicine procedure and the birth of nuclear medicine instrumentation. Blumgart became the first to use radioactive iodine clinically, in the treatment of more than 1500 patients with hyperthyroidism.

Aside from Blumgart's research accomplishments, he stood out as an educator. He advocated for direct contact between medical students and patients, which was revolutionary in its implications for medical education. Blumgart's education of housestaff was legendary; the photograph of Blumgart with residents, sitting in a stairwell for impromptu teaching, is but one example of his dedication to this endeavor. Further, he made it a priority to educate patients about their illness and prognosis, saying, "There is no condition so complex that it cannot be explained in simple, intelligible language." Blumgart's outstanding contributions to medicine, from his research to his education to his leadership at Beth Israel Hospital, led to the naming of the Herrman Ludwig Blumgart Professorship of Medicine, held by the Physician-in-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Medicine, in his honor.

Author: Suzanne Baumwell
November 2005

George S. Kurland

George S. Kurland served at Beth Israel Hospital as a master clinician, teacher and researcher for over 55 years. Born and raised in Boston, he spent his entire career in the Harvard system and was a major benefactor of Harvard University. After graduating magna cum laude with a degree in economics from Harvard College in 1940, he entered Harvard Medical School.

In 1943, he began his legacy at Beth Israel hospital as an intern, resident and chief resident in internal medicine. After his chief residency he stayed at Beth Israel as a research fellow and rapidly advanced to associate clinical professor in what would become the division of cardiology. He established the first cardiac catheterization lab at Beth Israel and served as the head of the Electrocardiography Division for several decades.

He was widely respected as an outstanding teacher and became the namesake for one of the four firms in which housestaff at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are mentored. He was the recipient of the Robert S. Stone award given by the housestaff for outstanding service as a clinician and teacher in medicine. The George S. Kurland Legacy Fund was created to support a variety of educational resources for medical students and residents, including the on-line ECG tutorial, Wave Maven. On August 8, 1998, his former students and those whom he had mentored dedicated a major support pillar of the hospital in Kurland's honor.

Kurland's research interest was in the intersection of thyroid and cardiac pathology. He served as president and chairman of the Research Allocations Society of the Massachusetts Heart Association as well as a member of the American Thyroid Association. Throughout his career he published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature. Most of his research focused on the use of radioactive iodine and thyroid regulation in patients with angina pectoris, but he also wrote seminal articles on the use of norepinephrine in cardiogenic shock and the use of penicillin in rheumatic fever. Moreover, he coauthored a textbook entitled Blood Flow and Circulation. A fitting tribute to his lifetime of service, Kurland was the recipient of the highest honor the Massachusetts Heart Association can bestow, the Paul Dudley White Award, for the physician who has made a lasting contribution to the reduction of premature death and disability from cardiovascular disease. Even into his late 70s, Kurland still worked tirelessly at the hospital to which he devoted his remarkable career.

Author: Adam Skolnick
November 2005

Stephen H. Robinson

Stephen H. Robinson was an accomplished hematologist at the Beth Israel Hospital as well as a cherished teacher at Harvard Medical School.

He was born and raised in Brooklyn but spent much of his professional life in Boston. Graduating summa cum laude from Harvard College, Robinson went on to Harvard Medical School. He pursued training in Internal Medicine at the Boston City Hosptial, on the Harvard Medical Service. Under the direction of Dr. William Castle, then Chief of Medicine of the Harvard Service, Robinson nurtured an interest in investigative hematology.

Following his clinical training, Robinson went to the NIH where he studied heme degradation and acquired an uncommon expertise in the porphyrias. He returned to Boston and accepted a position at the Beth Israel Hospital as young academic physician. Here he continued studying heme metabolism, hematopoietic stem cell maturation, and sickle cell anemia. Robinson also developed a reputation as an outstanding clinician whose gentle manner and clinical acumen earned the affection of patients.

Teaching held a special appeal to Robinson and he is remembered as an exceptional educator. He not only received an appointment as Firm Chief at the Beth Israel Hospital but also was the first Master of the William Castle Society at HMS. His patience and high expectations encouraged both students and house officers to strive to a deeper understanding of pathophysiology.

Robinson is remembered as a humble, ethical, and unpretentious man whose talents as a scientist, clinician, and educator will be cherished by his patients and his students. The Robinson Firm now honors his lasting contributions to education at Beth Israel Hospital; it was named in his honor after his early death in 1998 at the age of 65.

Author: Rahul Jhaveri
November 2005

James Lyman Tullis

James Lyman Tullis, a world-renowned hematologist, Professor at Harvard Medical School, Chairman of the Department of Medicine, and Physician-In- Chief at New England Deaconess Hospital, was born in Newark, Ohio. He graduated from Rollins College in Florida and received his medical degree from Duke University in 1940. After completing his medical training at Roosevelt Hospital in New York, Tullis served as a captain in the Army Medical Corps during World War II. He joined the staff of New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston in 1948 as a research fellow in clinical Pathology, working with Shields Warren to investigate the permeability of white blood cells. The results of these studies were published in the American Journal of Physiology and this represented just one of 143 publications during his lifetime.

As a clinical investigator, Tullis gained international recognition for his research on the separation, collection and preservation of human blood components. He developed a new method of freezing and storing red blood cells. He did so by fine tuning the glycerol freezing process by determining the quantity and type of glycerol needed to freeze red blood cells, as well as how long and at what temperature the cells should be frozen. He then discovered a method for long-term storage and transfusion of these red cells. While at Harvard, Tullis also worked with Edward Cohn to help develop the Cohn fractionater, which is used to prepare human platelets for transfusion.

In his nearly 40 years at New England Deaconess Hospital, Tullis had numerous achievements. He served as Chairman of the Department of Medicine and Physician-In-Chief from 1964-1981. During this time he created an in-house graduate training program and recruited full-time interns and residents. He also recruited brilliant faculty members who were able to complete the research and training necessary to become affiliated with Harvard Medical School. The Deaconess Hospital was officially established as a Harvard teaching hospital in the early 1980s. After retiring as Chairman of the Department of Medicine, Dr. Tullis remained at Deaconess as an attending physician until his death in 1996.

Author: Priya Mulgoakar
November 2005

Howard Hiatt

Howard Hiatt, the first Herrman L. Blumgart Professor of Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital, was born in Patchogue, NY in 1925. He attended Harvard College and received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1948. He did his internship and residency at Beth Israel Hospital, followed by a fellowship in medicine at Cornell. He returned to Beth Israel in 1955 as an Instructor in Medicine and has worked at Harvard in some capacity ever since.

Hiatt's research career began with the study of messenger RNA and its role in abnormal cell growth. He published numerous journal articles and books on this topic and collaborated with many eminent scientists including James Watson at Cold Spring Harbor and Jacques Monod at the Pasteur Institute in France.
At the same time that he was establishing his research career, Hiatt was becoming a superior clinician and teacher. In 1963 (at the age of only 37) he became the first Herrman L. Blumgart Professor of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of Beth Israel Hospital. Hiatt was at this time also serving as editor of the Beth Israel Seminars in Medicine, an ongoing series in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In 1972, Hiatt was named Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. His time there was somewhat tumultuous - his faculty once circulated a well-publicized petition to oust him. He was strongly supported, however, by Derek Bok, then President of Harvard University. By the time Hiatt left the HSPH in 1984, he had strengthened ties with the faculty and moved the school in positive directions, both financially and academically.

After Hiatt stepped down as Dean, he decided to devote less time to administrative work and more to research, teaching, writing, and public health policy. He collaborated on research on medical errors and lobbied Senator Edward Kennedy for changes such that doctors would have more incentives to prevent these errors. He wrote multiple op-ed pieces in The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal about such subjects HIV/AIDS and abortion rights. He wrote extensively in the about nuclear war, which he referred to as the "next epidemic" which would devastate the country; he met with President Reagan to discuss these views.

Currently, Hiatt raises money and awareness for Partners in Health, a non- profit organization for international health run by Doctors Paul Farmer and Jim Kim. This dedicated to curing multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Haiti, Peru, and Mexico.

Author: Julia Lindenberg
November 2005

Robert C. Moellering, Jr.

Robert C. Moellering, Jr. was born in Lafayette, Indiana. Majoring in zoology, he graduated from Valparaiso University with highest distinction and pursued his medical degree at Harvard, graduating cum laude in 1962. He completed his internship, residency in Internal Medicine, and fellowship in Infectious disease all at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was known as "the fellow who knew more than all the attendings." Following his fellowship he became Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and over the next ten years was promoted to Professor. In 1981 he became Physician-in-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Deaconess Hospital where he led the department through its merger with the Beth Israel; when he began at the Deaconess, it was a fledgling academic department with fewer than 20 faculty holding Harvard appointments. When he stepped down as Chairman in 2005, he was leading one of the world's most prominent departments, with over 400 full-time faculty.

In addition to his administrative leadership, Moellering has been one of the world's most respected leaders in infectious diseases. Publishing more than 325 original articles, he has made major advances in the understanding and development of antimicrobial agents. Moellering was the first to recognize the clinical importance Enterococcus, organisms that were at one time considered harmless. He went on to define enterococcus' specific profiles and mechanisms of resistance, leading to the development of a laboratory test that is now used worldwide. He was also the first to show the clinical effectiveness of penicillin-gentamicin combination therapy for enterococcal endocarditis, now the standard treatment for this infection. Moellering has had widespread influence on the development of numerous antimicrobials, including his instrumental work in deriving the nomogram for vancomycin dosing in patients with impaired renal function, and his contributions toward elucidating mechanisms vancomycin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus. Moellering has served as editor and editor-in-chief for many prominent infectious disease and internal medicine journals, but he may be best known to residents and students worldwide, however, as the lead author of the Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy. To students and residents at BIDMC, Moellering will always be known for his humble yet informative and engaging teaching style and his commitment and dedication to the housestaff.

In celebrating Moellering's term as Chairman, Dr. Jerome Groopman noted, "How many of us has he supported on his shoulders? How many of us has he helped to move forward when we felt we didn't have the energy or endurance to continue? Those shoulders have carried enormous burdens, carried with a quiet confidence, through all the difficult times, the growth of the department, the merger…. Bob is loved because beyond his intellect, beyond his knowledge, beyond his hard work, he is filled with a unique form of kindness. Bob has true generosity of spirit. He sees your success as his success. This is his legacy."

Author: Amy Slansky
November 2005

Contact Information

Residency Training Program
Internal Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
West Campus, Deaconess Building, Suite 306
One Deaconess Road
Boston, MA 02215
617-632-8273
617-632-8261
medinternship@bidmc.harvard.edu