- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Maude Elizabeth Seymour Abbott

Born  1869-03-18
Died  1940

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Canadian pathologist and bacteriologist, born March 18, 1869, St. Andrews East, Quebec; died 1940.

Biography of Maude Elizabeth Seymour Abbott

Maude Elizabeth Seymour Abbott was a world-famous pathologist, the first female graduate of the McGill Medical Faculty, and one of the first women to practice and teach medicine in Canada. While in her senior year of high school she won a scholarship to McGill University, Montreal. Having earned a BA, she decided to study medicine.She applied to the faculty in 1889 but was refused admission, as women were not allowed to enter its medical program. Determined to receive medical education, she gained admittance to the Bishop's Medical College, graduating in 1894. Bishop's merged with McGill in 1905. Following graduation she went to Vienna for further studies. In 1897, she wrote a successful paper on heart murmurs, but a male friend had to present it for her since women were not admitted to the Montreal medical society where she was to read the paper.
From 1898 she was assistant curator, and from 1902 to 1927 curator of the pathological museum of the McGill University, an institution which became a first-rate teaching tool for medical students and a resource base for practitioners.

From 1923 to 1925 she was professor of pathology and bacteriology at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, and from 1926 was assistant professor of research medicine at her alma mater, where she pioneered the use of museum exhibits as teaching aids. Her most important work concerns congenital diseases of the heart and metabolic disturbances.

She was also active in medical history and participated in the founding of the international Association of Medical Museums. She was made an honorary member of the all-male Osler Society, named after Sir William Osler (1849-1919).

Canada Post paid tribute to this medical pioneer by issuing a stamp of The Millennium Collection on January 17, 2000.

Abbott published more than 100 scientific articles and was editor of the Bulletin of Pathology from 1908 to 1936.


  • A historical sketch of the medical faculty of McGill University.
    Montreal, 1902.
  • Congenital cardiac disease.
    In William Osler and Thomas McCrae, editors: Modern medicine: Its Theory and Practice, in Original Contributions by American and Foreign Authors.
    Philadelphia and New York: Lea & Febiger, 1907-1910.
    Rikitansky-Maud Abbott syndrome.
  • Atlas of Congenital Heart Disease.
    New York, American Heart Association, 1936. Reprinted 1954.
    This classic work lists a classification of cardiac disease based on 1000 cases.

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