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Arnold Rice Rich

Born 1893
Died 1968

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American pathologist, born March 28, 1893, Birmingham, Alabama; died April 17, 1968, Baltimore, Maryland.

Biography of Arnold Rice Rich

Arnold Rice Rich was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the second of two children in a prosperous southern family. His father was the owner of a mercantile business. Following his elementary schooling in Birmingham, Rich was sent to a military preparatory academy – The Bingham School – in North Carolina. He then entered the University of Virginia, wanting to become a mining engineer. However, due to his dislike of mathematics he chose biology instead. During his last year there, working in the zoology department, he investigated the proboscis of a flat worm – Planaria albissima – which when separated from the body would ingest anything, but was selective when attached to the worm.

From biology in Virginia, Rich in the fall of 1915 moved on to the Johns Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore. He graduated M.D. in 1919, along with membership of the Alpha Omega Alpha. He was associated with Johns Hopkins for the rest of his life.

Rich's specialization in pathology was to a large degree due to the influence of the physiologist William Henry Howell (1860-1945), with whom he spent much time in the research laboratory. His initial research on blood coagulation was done with Howell.

During World War I, Rich and other medical students from Johns Hopkins were regimented into the Johns Hopkins Unit of the Students Army Training Corps. Because of his previous military training, Rich was made a sergeant. His experiences during the war made him more interested in practical medicine and less in theory, and he wanted to go into experimental surgery. William Stewart Halsted (1852-1922), the professor of surgery, suggested he devote himself to pathology for a year as a preparation for a surgical internship, working under William George McCallum (1874-1944). Except for a sabbatical year studying with the internist Hans Eppinger (1879-1946) in Vienna, Rich remained in the Hopkins pathology department for his entire career.

Arnold Rice Rich was appointed professor of pathology in 1944, succeeding McCallum, and in 1947 he became the third Baxley Professor of Pathology, Chairman of the Pathology Department, and pathologist-in-chief of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Rich became professor emeritus in 1958 but retained his interest in pathology until his death in 1968. He was a popular teacher, as demonstrated by the number of students and staff attending the weekly clinical-pathological conferences. For a period Louis Hamman was Rich's first clinical opponent at these conferences.

Rich received numerous honours. He was made a member of the National Academy of Science, and in 1951 France gave him her greatest honour, making him chevalier de la Légion d'honneur.

Arnold Rice Rich was by American standard an eccentric. He rarely arrived at work before 12, often working late into the night. He was a fly fisher, engraver, poet and composer who played the violin and was a member of a chamber music group. Another great interest of his was literature, and he did extensive studies on the "Source of the Nile". In 1925 he married Helen Jones, a talented pianist and composer, whom he had met in 1915. They had two children.

Rich's important research cover a broad field. He made contributions to the classification of jaundice, and made important investigations elucidating the formation of bile pigment. A major portion of his research was devoted to pursuing the relationship between hypersensitivity and immunity, especially related to tuberculosis. He demonstrated that peri-arteritis could result from hypersensitivity to drugs such as sulphonamides, and he identified the Gaucher cell as a phagocyte.

We thank Søren Nørby, Denmark, for correcting en error in the original entry.

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