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William Beaumont. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B029105).

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Beaumont, William (21 November 1785–25 April 1853), physician and physiologist, was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Beaumont and Lucretia Abel, farmers. Little is known about his early life, except that he attended a local common school and disliked farming. At age twenty-one he left home and settled several months later in Champlain, New York, a village near the Canadian border. For three years he taught school and read borrowed medical books in his spare time. In the fall of 1810 he moved to St. Albans, Vermont, to learn medicine as an apprentice to an established physician, Benjamin Chandler, still the most common means of acquiring a medical education. While living in the Chandler household and performing chores for the doctor, Beaumont learned by observing and doing. He rode to see patients with his preceptor, assisted in operations, compounded drugs, and occasionally filled in during Chandler’s absence....

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DuBois, Eugene Floyd (04 June 1882–12 February 1959), physiologist and physician, was born in West New Brighton, Staten Island, New York, the son of Eugene DuBois, a broker, and Anna Greenleaf Brooks. Between the ages of eight and fifteen, DuBois attended the Staten Island Academy; he then spent two years at the Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts. During the summer of 1898, while his family vacationed at Mastic, Long Island, DuBois and his brother Arthur served as orderlies for two weeks at the Army Hospital at Montauk Point, near Camp Wyckoff. There they aided in the care of soldiers from the Cuban campaign of the Spanish-American War, who were recovering from dysentery and typhoid fever. Despite the peril to his health, DuBois enjoyed this work and from that time never considered anything but medicine as a career....

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Forbes, Alexander (14 May 1882–27 March 1965), neurophysiologist, physician, and explorer, was born in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of William Hathaway Forbes, the first president of the Bell Telephone Company, and Edith Emerson, the daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Forbes received his early education at the Milton Academy and in 1900 matriculated at Harvard College, after a year of travel in the western United States and then in Europe. In 1904 he received an A.B. from Harvard and the following year an M.A. Before undertaking medical training at Harvard, Forbes spent another year in the western United States, living with his brother in a cabin in Wyoming. Forbes married Charlotte Irving Grinell in June 1910; the couple would have four children. That year Harvard awarded Forbes a medical doctorate, and he became a member of the American Physiological Society, which he later served as treasurer from 1927 to 1936. He did postgraduate studies in 1911–1912 with Charles S. Sherrington in Liverpool, England, investigating the reflexes of decerebrate animals. While in England, Forbes also visited Keith Lucas at Cambridge for several weeks. Returning to the United States, he worked with H. B. Williams, the Dalton Professor of Physiology at Columbia University, measuring reflex times with an Einthoven string galvanometer (a device invented by Willem Einthoven in 1902 to measure electrical currents in the heart)....

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Hawthorne, Edward William (30 November 1921–07 October 1986), physician, physiologist, and educator, was born near Port Gibson, Mississippi, the son of Edward William Hawthorne, a minister, and Charlotte Bernice Killian, a teacher. As a child, Hawthorne endured a bout with polio at the age of seven and the untimely death of his father. After graduating from Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., he entered Fisk University and later transferred to Howard University, where he earned a B.S. in biology (1941) and an M.D. (1946). As an intern at Freedmen’s Hospital in 1946–1947, he developed an interest in cardiac research. He went on to earn an M.S. (1949) and Ph.D. (1951), both in physiology, at the University of Illinois, Chicago. In 1948 he married Eula Roberts; they had five children....

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Knowles, John Hilton (23 May 1926–06 March 1979), physician, cardiopulmonary physiologist, and hospital and foundation administrator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of James Knowles, a former World War I flying ace and vice president of Rexall Drug Company, and Jean Laurence Turnbull, an artist. Knowles spent his early childhood years in Normandy, Missouri; when he was twelve, he and his family moved to Belmont, Massachusetts. After graduating from Belmont High School in 1944, Knowles enrolled at Harvard, majoring in biochemistry. Sports and jazz music were his chief interests in college. With classmate ...

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Frank C. Mann. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B018566).

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Mann, Frank Charles (11 September 1887–30 September 1962), experimental physiologist and physician, was born in Adams County, Indiana, the son of Joseph E. Mann and Louisa Kiess. Mann’s parents were homesteaders on the Hoosier frontier, and his early rearing consisted of chores around the family farm. His interest in medicine arose early in childhood. “By the time I was six years of age,” Mann wrote in his autobiography, “I had determined to be a doctor” (p. 2). He attended high school in Decatur, Indiana, and then Marion Normal College and Indiana University. From the latter institution, Mann received a B.A. in 1911. Although accepted by the medical school at the Johns Hopkins University, Mann attended Indiana’s medical school for financial reasons. In 1913 Indiana awarded him an M.D. and the following year an M.A. for his work on surgical shock....

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Meltzer, Samuel James (22 March 1851–07 November 1920), physician and physiologist, was born in Ponevyezh, Russia, the son of Simon Meltzer, a teacher, and Taube Kowars. The family were Orthodox Jews, and Meltzer received his early education in a rabbinical seminary. He decided against a religious vocation, however, and entered the University of Berlin in 1876 to study philosophy and medicine, obtaining his medical degree in 1882....

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Sewall, Henry (25 May 1855–08 July 1936), physiologist and physician, was born in Winchester, Virginia, the son of Thomas Sewall, a Methodist Episcopal clergyman, and Julia Elizabeth Waters. Sewall’s father, who was soon called to a Baltimore pulpit, died of tuberculosis when Henry was fifteen. In 1871 Sewall entered Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where as a clergyman’s son he had reduced fees. There he took the newly established “scientific course” and studied under the influential teacher William North Rice, but because previous schooling had left him poorly prepared, he did not earn a B.S. until 1876. Poverty thwarted Henry’s desire to attend Harvard Medical School, and he returned to Baltimore. A family friend introduced him to ...