William Bennett Bean

Born 1909
Died 1989

Related eponyms

American hepatologist, born 1909, Philippine Island; died 1989.

Biography of William Bennett Bean

William Bennett Bean was born in the Philippine Islands, but not long after the family moved to New Orleans and a few years later to Charlottesville, Virginia, where his father became chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Virginia. He received his B.A. and M.D. from the University of Virginia, in 1932 and 1935, respectively. Following graduation from medical school, with top of the class designation and as president of Alpha Omega Alpha, he interned on the Osler Service at Johns Hopkins. The following year he moved to Boston and joined the elite group at the Thorndike Laboratory and the Harvard Service at Boston City Hospital. Dr. Bean began his clinical career at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (1936-1946) and at Cincinnati General Hospital (1941-1948). He was both a teacher and clinician, specializing in nutrition. He left Ohio in 1948 to become professor of medicine and head of internal medicine at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. He was named Sir William Osler Professor of Medicine there in 1970. In 1974, Dr. Bean was appointed Director, Institute for Medical Humanities and Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston. In 1980, he retired from the Institute and returned to Iowa City as Sir William Osler Professor Emeritus.
Throughout his career, Dr. Bean was well known for his expertise in the field of nutrition, but even more so for his teaching and writing excellence. Long an admirer and follower of Sir William Osler's philosophies and techniques, Dr. Bean rarely turned down an invitation to speak or be a visiting professor. In his 1974 Archives of Internal Medicine festschrift, he was described as "a true renaissance man: an articulate clinician, a scholar of the classics, a masterful teller of tales, and a prodigious writer of stories." Between 1937 and 1974, Bean published over 600 works in such diverse fields as nutrition, respiratory disease, myocardial infarction, climatology, arterial "spiders," slum eradication and housing, liver disease, William Osler, Walter Reed, and the history of medicine. For over thirty years, Bean served as editor fro fifteen journals, most notably the Archives of Internal Medicine. In 1970, he co-founded the American Osler Society. He also was selected by two different Presidents to serve on the National Library of Medicine's Board of Regents.

This information was found on a website of the United States National Library of Medicine,, National Institutes of health: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/manuscripts/ead/bean.html

We thank Grace E. Jacobs for information submitted.

    Quotations by William Bennett Bean

    ”The one mark of maturity, especially in a physician, and perhaps it is even rarer in a scientist, is the capacity to deal with uncertainty.»
    Archives of Internal Medicine, 1963, 112: 2.

    «The heroic aspects of Benjamin Rush, his many ideas about mental health, his signing of the Declaration of Independence, have made us forget the harm he did. His willingness to follow the guttering candle of ignorance, his dogmatic conviction that he was right, his consummate ability to fool himself consistently helped to kill an unmeasured plenty of his patients in Philadelphia. That his motives were pure and serene constitutes another example of the unlimited capacity of man to fool himself. Only the genius or unsung hero can make an intellectual judgment when his feelings, emotions and beliefs are engaged.»
    Archives of Internal Medicine, 1966, 117: 1.

    «The vapidity of medical writing which reflects very little logical or rigorous thought indicates that the cultural potential of physicians, instead of leading, has fallen below the average. Anyone forced by editorial obligations to read critically many medical papers is struck by the singular and consistent absence of form, a vast desert of data with the rare cases of prose, all too often the dried up water holes of the alkali plain.»
    Archives of Internal Medicine, 1953, 92: 153.

    «The pseudo prestige of long and difficult words transcends the useful scientific term and diffuses widely through our papers. Simple things are made complicated, and the complex is made incomprehensible. Chaos reigns. The so-called medical literature is stuffed to bursting with junk, written in a hopscotch style characterised by a Brownian movement of uncontrolled parts of speech which seethe in restless unintelligibility.»
    Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, 1952, 39: 3.

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