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Edith Louise Potter

Born  1901
Died  1993

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American pathologist, born 1901. Chicago; died 1993.

Biography of Edith Louise Potter

Edith Louise Potter was born in Clinton, Iowa and qualified in medicine at the University of Minnesota in 1925. After 5 years in private practice she undertook training in pathology, obtaining her doctorate in 1934. Potter then moved to the department of obstetrics and gynaecology, University of Chicago and in 1956 became professor of pathology and pathologist to the Chicago Lying-in Hospital. She held this tenure until her retirement in 1967.

The condition which Potter delineated was recognised in a group of 17 male and 3 female babies in a series of 5000 foetal and neonatal autopsies. Prior to this there had been several isolated studies done on infants with the condition, some even date back as far as the sixteen hundreds but up until this study it was presumed that the condition was extremely rare. Potter's investigation concentrated only on total Renal Agenesis (absent kidneys) but since then the name has been extended to any condition where the kidneys fail to develop fully. She subsequently reported 50 additional cases which she had personally observed.

Potter had the novel and still important insight that teratogenic syndromes may be understood as affecting otherwise unrelated organs or tissues which are each at a susceptible state of their embryonic development at the time that the teratogenic influence acts. Therin lies the crucial importance of Potter's syndrome.

Potter has written six monographs and more than 130 papers. Her numerous contributions were recognised by election to honorary fellowship of the International Paediatric Pathology Association.

We thank Zoran Bojanic, M.D., Serbia, and Nicholas Lenn for information submitted.


  • Edith Louise Potter:
    Normal and abnormal development of the kidney.
    Year Book Medical Publishers, Chicago, 1972; 1985.
  • Edith Louise Potter and John M. Craig:
    Pathology of the fetus and the infant.
    Year Book Medical Publishers. 3rd edition, 1975.
  • Edith Louise Potter and Enid Gilbert-Barness, editors:
    Potter's pathology of the fetus and infant. St. Louis: Mosby, 1997.
  • Hans-Rudolf Wiedemann:
    Edith Potter (1901-1903). European Journal of Pediatrics, Berlin, 1994, 153: 471.

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