- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Joe Vincent Meigs

Born  1892
Died  1963

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American obstetrician and gynaecologist, born October 24, 1892, Lowell; died 1963.

Biography of Joe Vincent Meigs

Joe (Joseph) Vincent Meigs has been a major influence to contemporary gynaecological science. During his entire professional career he was affiliated with Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, as professor of gynaecology and head of the department of gynaecology, respectively. Meigs belonged to the chosen few with the ability to see the underlying, systematic connections in the seemingly coincidental - "serendipity".

Joe Vincent Meigs came from an old Massachusetts family. His paternal grandfather was a captain in the American Civil War and was rewarded the medal for bravery by Abraham Lincoln. His father was a general practitioner in New England – exciting his son's interest in medicine, particularly surgery.

Meigs graduated Bachelor of Arts at Princeton University in 1919 and qualified in medicine at Harvard University in Boston. His first service was in surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital, to which he was connected for the rest of his professional life. For one year he was assistant to the renowned surgeon William Phillips Graves (1870–), who initiated Meigs' interest in gynaecological surgery.

Meigs later became "instructor of surgery" at the faculty of medicine, Harvard University, teaching there from 1932 to 1942. He later became a member of the staff at the State Cancer Hospital and the Huntington Memorial Hospital for Cancer Research and Treatment.

In 1942 Joe Vincent Meigs became professor of clinical gynaecology at Harvard, and head of the Vincent Memorial Hospital with its well equipped laboratories and research facilities. He resigned form this position in 1955, and from his Harvard tenure in 1959, when he became emeritus. The professorship of gynaecology at Harvard has since been designated "Joe Vincent Meigs' Professor of Gynecology".

Joe Vincent Meigs received many honours and was president of numerous scientific societies, among them the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Boston Surgical Society and the Boston Obstetrical Society. He was also a founding member of the Society of Pelvic Surgeons and vice president of the American College of Surgeons.

Meigs remained a lifelong, faithful Bostonian, living on Beacon Hill, the most fashionable part of Boston. His home was always open to friends and visiting scientists and physicians from all over the world. His colleagues described him as an exceptional man and a true doctor to his patient, as well as a prominent scientist. Meigs was a master of bedside treatment, engaging himself in his patient's concerns - while at the same time solving difficult medical problems. He also had a way of spreading enthusiasm among his colleagues and assistants. He died of a heart thrombosis.

Meigs authored more than 150 medical publications.


  • Surgical treatment of carcinoma of the cervix.
    New York, Grune & Stratton, 1954, 1-462.
  • E. Navratil:
    Joe Vincent Meigs. Acta cytologica, 1964, 8: 461-462.
  • Olle Kjellgren:
    Joe Vincent Meigs: Epokbildande inom 1900-talets gynekologi.
    Läkartidningen, Stockholm, 1986, 46: 134-136.
    In the series: Mannen bakom syndromet [The Man Behind the Syndrome].

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