- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Philip Showalter Hench

Born  1896-02-28
Died  1965-03-20

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American physician, born February 28, 1896, Pittsburgh; died March 30, 1965, Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Biography of Philip Showalter Hench

Philip Showalter Hench received his doctorate in medicine from the University of Pittsburgh in 1920 and came to the Mayo Clinic in 1923. During the years 1928 and 1929 he studied at the University of Freiburg and at Friedrich von Müller's (1858-1941) clinic in Munich. He was appointed an instructor in the Mayo Foundation in 1928, Assistant Professor 1932, Associate Professor 1935 and, in 1947, Professor of Medicine.

During the second World War Hench from 1942 served as a lieutenant-colonel in the Medical Corps, becoming Chief of the Medical Service and Director of the Army's Rheumatism Centre at the Army and Navy General Hospital. Leaving the army with the rank of colonel, in 1946, he became expert consultant to the Army Surgeon General.

Working at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, Hench noticed that during pregnancy and in the presence of jaundice the severe pain of arthritis may decrease and even disappear. With Edward Calvin Kendall (1886-1972), Hench in 1948 successfully applied an adrenal hormone (later known as cortisone) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. With Edwin Calvin Kendall and Tadeus Reichstein (born in Poland), Hench received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1950 ”for their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects.”

Dr. Hench was the author of several papers in the field of rheumatology, and was one of the leaders in American rheumatology. His leisure time was devoted to music, photography and tennis, and medical history.


  • P. S. Hench, E. C. Kendall, C. H. Slocumb and H. F. Polley:
    The effects of a hormone of the adrenal cortex (17-hydroxy-11-dehydrocorticosterone: compound E) and of pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone on rheumatoid arthritis.
    Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Rochester, Minnesota, 1949, 24: 181-197.
    Introduction of cortisone and A.C.T.H. in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • P. S. Hench, C. H. Slocumb, A. R. Barnes, H. L. Smith, H. F. Polley, and E. C.Kendall:
    The effects of the adrenal cortical hormone 17-hydroxy-11-dehydrocorticosterone (compound E) on the acute phase of rheumatic fever: preliminary report.
    Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Rochester, Minnesota, 1949, 24: 277-197.
    Compound E (cortisone) introduced in the treatment of rheumatic fever.

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