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William Osler Abbott

Born  1902-07-26
Died  1943-09-10

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American physician, born July 26, 1902, New Bedford, Massachusetts; died September 10, 1943, Waquoit, Massachusetts.

Biography of William Osler Abbott

William Osler Abbott was the son of Alexander C. Abbott, a biologist, and Georgina Picton Osler, a niece of Sir William Osler. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia in 1928 and then served as an intern at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. From 1930, Abbott worked with Thomas Grier Miller at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

From 1931 to 1934, Abbott had a part time affiliation with the Department of Pharmacology. He then became a member of the Gastro Intestinal Clinic at Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He was a Medical Fellow from 1930 to 1931, an instructor from 1931 to 1937, and associate professor from 1937 to 1941. From 1941 he was an Assistant Professor of Medicine.

Abbott joined the U.S. army with the rank of major in the Medical reserve Corps in May 1942, but was honourably discharged with physical disability in September of the same year and died of leukaemia. This may have followed the X-ray exposure he would have received in screening the position of the tube in volunteers and patients he investigated.

W. Osler Abbott ", married Lucy Waldo in 1928. They had three children, Thomas William Osler, Ann Gatewood, and Lucy Featherstone.

A witty man, Abbott once wrote in a patient's chart as an intern, «The patient is a 53 year old spinster who, during her youth had symptoms from all her organs. As an adult she had her organs removed one by one. Now she is a mere shell with symptoms where her organs used to be.» One of the trainees of Miller and Abbott was Franz Ingelfinger.

In 1974 the correspondence and medical case files on W. Osler Abbott were donated to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Francis C. Wood.

We thank Grace E. Jacobs for information submitted.


  • Technique book for small intestinal studies. 1935-1941.
    In this book, Abbott describes projects, experiments, and intestinal intubation devices from the Gastro Intestinal Section of the Medical Clinic of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

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