Eugene Lindsay Opie

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Eugene Lindsay Opie
Eugene Lindsay Opie, in 1903
Born5 July 1873
Died12 March 1971 (age 97)
NationalityFlag of the United States.svg United States
Alma materJohns Hopkins University
Known forResearch on diabetes mellitus and tuberculosis
Scientific career
FieldsMedicine, Pathology
InstitutionsJohns Hopkins University, Rockefeller Institute, Washington University, Cornell University Medical School, University of Pennsylvania
Doctoral advisorWilliam H. Welch

Eugene Lindsay Opie (5 July 1873 – 12 March 1971) was an American physician and pathologist who conducted research on the causes, transmission, and diagnosis of tuberculosis and on immunization against the disease. He served as professor of pathology at several U.S. medical schools and as Dean of the Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, Missouri).

Early life[edit]

Opie was born in Staunton, Virginia, on July 5, 1873. His father, Thomas, was an obstetrician-gynecologist, and one of the founders and deans of the University of Maryland College of Medicine in Baltimore.[1] Eugene attended Johns Hopkins University, both as an undergraduate and a medical student. He received an A.B. degree in 1893, and was in the first graduating class of the Johns Hopkins Medical School, earning the M.D. degree in 1897.[2]

The first medical school graduating class of Johns Hopkins University, 1897. Opie is second from the left in the back row.

Under the tutelage of the pathologist William H. Welch, Opie developed a special affinity for tissue pathology. As a medical student, he observed consistent morphological alterations in the pancreatic islets of Langerhans in patients with diabetes mellitus – an observational epiphany that shed light on the pathogenesis of that disease.[3] Opie stayed on at Johns Hopkins after completing medical school, to receive additional training in pathology from Welch. He continued his work on pancreatic diseases, establishing the relationship between obstruction of the ampulla of Vater (e.g., by gallstones) and the subsequent development of acute pancreatitis.[4]

In 1904, Opie moved to New York City to work at the Rockefeller Institute, with a focus on the enzymatic constituents of leukocytes and their role in inflammatory conditions.[5] He concurrently served as a "visiting" pathologist at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, and was named an editor of the Journal of Experimental Medicine and the Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology.[6]

Washington University (St. Louis)[edit]

In 1910, Opie was appointed Chair of Pathology at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) in St. Louis. He served as Dean of the school from 1912 to 1915, presiding over a significant expansion of its physical facilities, scientific mission, and curriculum.[7]

Military service[edit]

When the United States entered World War I, Opie took a leave of absence from WUSM to enter the U.S. Army. He served in France as a colonel (O6) in the Medical Corps, with special work on infectious diseases and their prevention among allied soldiers. Significant new data were accrued on influenza, tuberculosis, and "trench fever" (bartonellosis) during that time.[8] Upon returning to civilian life, Opie continued his duties at WUSM until 1923.

Research on tuberculosis[edit]

Opie narrowed his general interest in infectious disease to focus on tuberculosis, an international scourge in the early part of the 20th century. In 1923 he became the Director of the Phipps Institute for the Study and Treatment of Tuberculosis at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. A concomitant appointment as Professor of Pathology was also given to him. Through Opie's work over the next decade, much was learned about the modes of tuberculous infection in children and adults, as well as aspects of immunity, hypersensitivity, and cellular defenses regarding that disease.[9] Opie moved to Cornell University Medical Center in New York in 1932 to continue his research. There, as chair of the Pathology department, he recruited several young pathologists—including Robert A. Moore, D. Murray Angevine, Jules Freund, and others – who would all go on to distinguish themselves as renowned investigators in their own rights.[2] Like Opie, Moore also served as chair of pathology and dean of the medical school at Washington University in the 1940s and 1950s.


Opie retired from full-time professional work in pathology in 1941, although that was not the end of his scientific endeavors. He again worked at the Rockefeller Institute as a "guest investigator" for the next 28 years. Peer-reviewed manuscripts bore his name as an author until 1970.[10][11] In addition to infections, Opie did work on hepatic carcinogenesis, alterations in nucleic acid content in various disease states,[12] and tissue fluid flux.


Opie served as the president of the American Association of Pathologists and Bacteriologists; the American Society for Experimental Pathology, the National Tuberculosis Association; the American Association of Immunologists; and the Harvey Society. He was awarded honorary doctorates from Yale University, Rockefeller University, and Washington University. Other accolades included the Weber-Parks Medal, the 1959 Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the 1960 Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Science from the New York Academy of Medicine,[13] and the T. Duckett Jones Award.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Opie first married Gertrude Lovat Simpson on August 6, 1902, and had four children with her: Thomas Lindsay, Anne Lovat, Helen Lovat and Gertrude Eugenie. Seven years after Gertrude's death in 1909, he married her sister Margaret Lovat Simpson on September 16, 1916.[14][15]


Opie died at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on March 12, 1971, at the age of 97.[16]


  1. ^ "Eugene Lindsay Opie experimental pathologist". JAMA. 199 (6): 420–1. February 1967. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120060118026. PMID 5334599. Eugene L. Opie was the son of Thomas Opie, one of the founders of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Baltimore, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the school and dean of its faculty for 33 years. Eugene was born in 1873 in Staunton, Va, where his mother was spending the summer to escape the heat of the city. Opie attended public schools in Baltimore and in 1893 received his bachelor of arts degree from Johns Hopkins University.1 After one year at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, he transferred to Johns Hopkins Medical School and in 1897 received the MD degree as a member of the first graduating class. Influenced particularly by William H. Welch, professor of pathology, and William S. Thayer, of the department of medicine, and with the aid of the microscope and laboratory animals, he became interested in the experimental study of disease.
  2. ^ a b c Kidd, JG (December 1971). "Eugene Lindsay Opie, MD, 1873–1971". The American Journal of Pathology. 65 (3): 483–92. PMC 2047596. PMID 4941067.
  3. ^ Opie EL (1900). "On the histology of the islands of Langerhans of the pancreas". Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. 11: 205–209.
  4. ^ Opie EL (1901). "The etiology of acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis". Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. 12: 182–188.
  5. ^ Opie, Eugene L. (1910). "Inflammation". Archives of Internal Medicine. V (6): 541–568. doi:10.1001/archinte.1910.00050280003001.
  6. ^ Op cit. Ref. 2
  7. ^ Angevine, DM (January 1963). "Comments on the life of Eugene Lindsay Opie". Laboratory Investigation. 12: 3–7. PMID 14013173.
  8. ^ Opie, Eugene L.; Blake, Florence Guinness; Rivers, Andrew B.; Small, J. (1921). Epidemic Respiratory Disease. H. Kimpton. OCLC 429786627.[page needed]
  9. ^ Long, ER (1974). "Eugene Lindsay Opie". Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. 47: 293–320. PMID 11615627.
  10. ^ Opie, EL (Spring 1970). "Adoption of standards of the best medical schools of Western Europe by those of the United States". Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 13 (3): 309–42. doi:10.1353/pbm.1970.0051. PMID 5427103.
  11. ^ Opie, EL; Lynch, CJ; Tershakovec, M (April 1970). "Sclerosis of the mesenteric arteries of rats. Its relation to longevity and inheritance". Archives of Pathology. 89 (4): 306–13. PMID 5461632.
  12. ^ Opie, E. L.; Lavin, GI (June 1946). "LOCALIZATION OF RIBONUCLEIC ACID IN THE CYTOPLASM OF LIVER CELLS". Journal of Experimental Medicine. 84 (1): 107–12. doi:10.1084/jem.84.1.107. PMC 2135636. PMID 19871549.
  13. ^ "The Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Science". New York Academy of Medicine. Archived from the original on February 19, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2011.
  14. ^ Esmond R. Long (1975). "Chapter 8 – Eugene Lindsay Opie". Biographical Memoirs. 47. National Academy of Sciences. pp. 292–321. ISBN 978-0-309-02245-3. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  15. ^ "Eugene Opie Papers". American Philosophical Society. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  16. ^ "Dr. Eugene Opie, Researcher, Dies. Pathologist, 97, Died. Early Studies on Diabetes". The New York Times. March 13, 1971. Retrieved 2010-03-22. Dr. Eugene Lindsay Opie, a pathologist, bacteriologist, medical school administrator and pioneer researcher on the cause Of diabetes, tuberculosis and other diseases, died yesterday in the Bryn Mawr (Pa.) Hospital. He was 97 years old. Despite his age, Dr. Opie had continued to ...

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