Morris FishbeinM.D. (July 22, 1889 – September 27, 1976) was a physician with surprisingly little clinical experience who nevertheless became the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) from 1924 to 1950. In 1961 he became the founding Editor of Medical World News, a magazine for doctors. In 1970 he endowed the Morris Fishbein Center. He was also notable for exposing quacks, notably the goat-gland surgeon John R. Brinkley, and campaigning for regulation of medical devices.
Fishbein, born in St. Louis, studied at Rush Medical College where he graduated in 1913. He joined George H. Simmons, editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), as an assistant and advanced to the editorship in 1924, a position he maintained until 1950. He was on the cover of TIME on June 21, 1937. In 1938, along with the AMA, he was indicted for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The AMA was convicted and fined $2,500 but Fishbein was acquitted. It has been claimed that Fishbein never practiced medicine or saw patients, but prior to his assuming the position of A.M.A. Journal editor, Fishbein served for 18 months as a resident physician in the Durand Hospital for Infectious Diseases. In 1961 he became the founding Editor of Medical World News, a magazine for doctors. In 1970 he endowed the Morris Fishbein Center for the study of the history of science and medicine at the University of Chicago. Its first activity was a lecture series taking place in May of that year. Allen G. Debus served as director of the Center from 1971 to 1977. Fishbein also endowed a chair at the university for the same subject, a chair taken up by Debus in 1978. The 7th floor in Shoreland Hall at the University of Chicago was known as Fishbein House, using the Fishbein name as its namesake. He died on September 27, 1976. He was survived by two daughters, Barbara Fishbein Friedell and Marjorie Clavey, and his son, Justin M. Fishbein.
Theme Issue: The Fishbein Festschrift, Medical Communications, Vol.5, No.4, (1977).
Barclay, W.R., "Morris Fishbein, MD-1889-1976, editor of JAMA-1924-1950 (Obituary)", Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol.236, No.19, (8 November 1976), p. 2212.
Brock, P., Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam, Crown Publishers, (New York), 2008. ISBN 978-0-307-33988-1
Fishbein, M., The Medical Follies: An Analysis of the Foibles of Some Healing Cults, including Osteopathy, Homeopathy, Chiropractic, and the Electronic Reactions of Abrams, with Essays on the Anti-Vivisectionists, Health Legislation, Physical Culture, Birth Control, and Rejuvination, Boni & Liveright, (New York), 1925.
Hale, A.R., "These Cults": An Analysis of the Foibles of Dr. Morris Fishbein's "Medical Follies" and an Indictment of Medical Practice in General, with a Non-Partisan Presentation of the Case for the Drugless Schools of Healing, Comprising Essays on Homeopathy, Osteopathy, Chiropractic, The Abrams Method, Vivisection, Physical Culture, Christian Science, Medical Publicity, The Cost of Hospitalization and State Medicine, National Health Foundation, (New York), 1926.
Fishbein, M., The New Medical Follies: an encyclopedia of cultism and quackery in these United States, with essays on the cult of beauty, the craze for reduction, rejuvenation, eclecticism, bread and dietary fads, physical therapy, and a forecast as to the physician of the future Boni & Liveright (New York) 1927 and AMS Press (New York) 1977. ISBN 0-404-13262-6.