- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Leo Kanner

Born 1894
Died 1981

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Austrian psychiatrist in the U.S., born June 13, 1894, Klekotow, Austria; died April 4, 1981.

Biography of Leo Kanner

Leo Kanner was an extraordinary child and began to write poetry when he was only ten. He graduated from the Sophiengymnasium in Berlin in 1913 and entered the university. After a period of service in the Austrian army in World War I, he resumed his studies at the University of Berlin and finally received his M.D. degree in 1921. He worked in the Charité when an American physician in Berlin for post-graduate study persuaded the young internist to consider opportunities in the United States, and in 1924 Kanner took a position as an assistant physician at the State Hospital in Yankton, South Dakota.

With no more training in paediatrics or child psychiatry than he had received as a medical student, Kanner taught himself paediatric psychiatry. In 1930, shortly after coming to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he was selected by Professors Adolf Meyer (1866-1950), Director of Psychiatry, and Edward A. Park (died 1969), Director of Pediatrics to develop the United States' first child psychiatry service in a paediatric hospital. Kanner became an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins in 1933 but was not elevated to the rank of Professor of Child Psychiatry until 1957.

Leo Kanner continued as the Director of Child Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins until his retirement in 1959, although he remained active until his death at age 87.

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