Emory Report

March 2, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 23

Hurst pens history of medicine at Emory from 1834 through 1986

Willis Hurst joined the medical school faculty in 1950, having trained at Harvard with Paul Dudley White, the "father of American cardiology." Hurst chaired the Department of Medicine from 1957 to 1986. During his 30-year tenure, the number of full-time faculty in the department grew from 14 to 147.

Who better to write a history of medical instruction and care at Emory? Hurst's book, The Quest for Excellence: The History of the Department of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, 1834-1986, is now available at the University bookstore. A special booksigning will take place March 11 from 4-6 p.m. in WHSCAB Plaza.

Hurst still continues to make rounds with residents after rising at 4 a.m. each morning to write, a lifelong habit that has produced numerous other books ranging from The Heart, published in five languages, to a remembrance of President Lyndon Johnson, for whom Hurst was personal cardiologist for almost two decades.

He begins the history of the department in the con-text of 1834 Atlanta medicine, when "Uncle Allen Turner" rose at a Georgia Methodist Conference to "insist that the Methodists from Georgia should develop their own school rather than send their money and sons to another state." The result was Emory College. When Emory University was created in 1915-following a controversy over the United Metho-dist's Church loss of control over Vanderbilt University-it incorporated Emory College, a new theology school and the Atlanta Medical College.

Hurst's book includes a look at the early history of Grady, at Wesley Memorial Hospital's relationship with the young medical school (the hospital soon moved to campus to become Emory Hospital) and the story of Asa Griggs Candler.

Named for an Atlanta Medical College professor who had once been his tutor, young Candler survived the ravages of the Civil War with little money or formal education. Apprenticed as a pharmacist, he eventually became the sole owner of the "formula for an elixir called Coca-Cola," and he and his brother, Bishop Warren Candler, were the major leaders in the development of the new University.

Covering this whirlwind history in 50 pages, the balance of the book focuses on the last five decades of the growing Department of Medicine and the medical school itself. Throughout these decades, the faculty no longer challenged each other to fisticuffs and duels, as in the early days of the Atlanta Medical School, but plenty of conflict and drama remain.

The book explains the creation of Emory Clinic as a way to provide medical faculty salaries as well as enhance patient care in Atlanta and the region, and also details the evolving relationship with Grady and other hospitals. It features a large collection of old photographs and extensive appendices.

-Sylvia Wrobel

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