- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Isidore Snapper

Born  1889
Died  1973

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Dutch-American physician, born January 5, 1889, Amsterdam; died 1973.

Biography of Isidore Snapper

Isidore Snapper studied and received his doctorate in 1913 in Groningen. He worked at the university obstetrical clinic in Utrecht, at the physiological institute in Groningen as a collaborator of Hijmans van den Bergh, and at the same clinic in Amsterdam under Pieter Klaases Pel (1852-1919). From 1919 he was professor of propaedeutic clinic and general pathology at the University of Amsterdam. He made numerous contributions to journals.

In 1938 Isidore Snapper emigrated and settled in Brooklyn, New York, where he joined the staff of The Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in the 1940s. Working for the Rockefeller Foundation, Snapper spent several years at Peiping Union Medical College in Peking. During his stay in China he studied the relationship between diet and diabetes among the very poor Chinese in North China. In this work he observed that there were as many diabetic patients among poor Chinese as in the USA, but they had none of the vascular problems that diabetics have in the USA. These people were vegetarian and millet and soy food was the main items in diet. He found that insulin-needing diabetics in this region of China did not go blind, had no problem with advanced arteriosclerosis, and did not suffer amputations caused by gangrene. He concluded that millet in the Chinese diet has an anti-clotting effect in the arteries, and in 1941 he was the first to suggest that unsaturated fat protected against arteriosclerosis. Snapper was considered a master of bedside medicine.

    "A physician for whom the word “charisma” might have been invented"
    Hans P. Popper, his colleague in Mount Sinai Hospita.


  • I. Snapper, T. F. Yu, Y. T. Chiang:
    Cinamic acid metabolism in man.
    Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, 1940, 44: 30-34.
  • I. Snapper:
    Chinese Lessons to Western Medicine. A contribution to geographical medicine from the clinics of Peiping union medical college.
    With a foreword by George Richards Minot (1885-1950).
    New York, Interscience 1941. 132 illustrations.
  • I. Snapper, A. Saltzman:
    A Quantitative aspects of benzoyl glucuronate formation in normal individuals and in patients with liver disorders.
    The American Journal of Medicine, New York, 1947, 11: 327-333
  • I. Snapper, A. Saltzman:
    Excretion of glucuronates after ingestion of benzoic acid or cinnamic acid as a test of liver function. 1948.
    Conference on Liver Injury. Transactions, 7th conference. Discussion, pp. 85-86.
  • I. Snapper:
    Myelomatosis. Karger, 1971.
  • J. H. Wilson, J. C. Birkenhaeger:
    Isidore Snapper (1889-1973) and quantitative assay of fecal hemoglobin.
    Annals of Internal Medicine, Philadelphia, May 1985, 102 (5): 721.
  • H. Popper:
    Isidore Snapper, M.D. 1889-1973. The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, New York, November/December 1973, 40 (6): 716-719.
  • Mart J. van Lieburg, editor:
    Isidore Snapper's Notes for Memoirs 1889-1973: The Autobiographical Recollections of 'The Champion of Bedside Medicine'. Introduction by Maurits Frenkel MD. Rotterdam: Erasmus Publishing, 2004. 239 pages.
    The author's full name is Marius Jan van Lieburg.

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