John Romano (physician)

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John Romano (1908–1994), an American physician and psychiatrist, was an educator whose major interest was in teaching medical students and residents the relationships between medicine and psychiatry in illness and health. He founded the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, and was Distinguished Professor and chairman for 25 years.

Romano was born into a poor family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father, an immigrant from Italy, was a musician, and his mother, a first-generation Italian, was a welfare worker. Romano attended public schools, then entered Marquette University in Milwaukee and received his B.S. in 1932. He attended and graduated from Marquette University School of Medicine and received his M.D. in 1934. He interned at the Milwaukee County General Hospital from 1934 to 1935 and decided to practice psychiatry. He took a second internship at Yale University to broaden his experience in neurology which was followed by a Commonwealth Fellowship at the University of Colorado under Franklin Ebaugh, M.D., a prominent psychiatric educator and researcher. Romano stayed in Colorado from 1935 to 1938. During these years, Romano received broad experience in psychosomatic medicine and patient care, and he taught medical students. Deciding on a medical specialty, he received further training in neurology. His Commonwealth Fellowship was transferred to Boston City Hospital and he stayed there between 1938 and 1939. He also received another fellowship to study psychoanalysis at the Boston City Hospital. Romano later reflected that the neurology training had broadened his knowledge of clinical medicine, neurology and psychiatry. He also came to the attention of Soma Weiss, M.D., who had heard of Romano’s skill in clinical teaching and research and served as his mentor.

In June 1942, Romano moved to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine to become the chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and he remained for four years. His enhanced the teaching of medical students and residents in mind-body relationships and improved community services. He introduced psychiatric training into all four years of the medical curriculum as an integral part of medicine and the medical care of patients.

During his years at the University of Cincinnati, Romano continued his research interests. His studies included delirium, fainting, and decompression. While in Boston, he met George L. Engel, M.D., an internist, researcher, psychoanalyst who had a particular interest in psychosomatic medicine. Romano brought Engel to Cincinnati and later to Rochester where they continued to teach and conduct research together.

In 1945, Romano was offered and accepted the Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical School which was established in 1920. Teaching psychiatry to medical student in each year of medical school was welcomed by the internal medicine department and provided Romano with the opportunity to become involved with the care of patients in other hospitals and clinics in Rochester. He obtained funds to build a psychiatric wing at the Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester Medical School, and he broaden the work of his department to include psychology and social work training and research. He remained as chair of psychiatry at Rochester until 1971 when he became Emeritus. In 1968, he was named Distinguished Professor.

One of the residences on the ground of the Rochester Psychiatric Center was named after John Romano.[1]

Romano received many awards: an honorary D.Sc. from Marquette University in 1971 and from Hahnemann University Hospital in 1974. In 1971, he received the Gold Medal Award of the University of Rochester Medical School alumni. In 1972, he received the Gold-Headed Cane from the University of California Medical School. He received the William Menninger award from the American College of Physicians in 1973. He served on the Board of Overseers of Harvard Medical School from 1949 to 1954. He organized and served on the first Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health. He was a consultant to the U.S. Army Surgeon General after World War II.

He published over 200 scientific papers and served on several editorial boards including the Journal of Psychiatric Research. Romano died in Rochester in 1994 after an acute stroke.


  • Romano, John, and Franklin G. Ebaugh. "Prognosis in Schizophrenia: A Preliminary Report", American Journal of Psychiatry (Nov. 1938): 583–596.
  • Romano, John. "Patients’ Attitudes and Behavior in Ward Round Teaching," The Journal of the American Medical Association (1941): 664-667.
  • Romano, John. "Emotional Components of Illness," Connecticut Medical Journal (1943): 22-25.
  • Romano, John, and George L. Engel. "Syncopal Reactions during Simulated Exposure to High Altitude in Decompression Chamber," War Medicine (1943): 475-489.
  • Romano, John, and George L. Engel. "Problems of Fatigue as Illustrated by Experiences in the Decompression Chamber," War Medicine (1944): 102-105.
  • Romano, John. Adaptation. Ithaca, Cornell Univ. Press, 1949.
  • Romano, John. "Twenty-Five years of University Department Chairmanship," American Journal of Psychiatry (June 1966): 7-27.
  • Romano, John. "The Teaching of Psychiatry to Medical Students: Past, Present, and Future," American Journal of Psychiatry (Feb. 1970): 1115-1126.
  • Romano, John. "The Elimination of the Internship – An Act of Regression," American Journal of Psychiatry (May 1970): 1565-1576.
  • Romano, John. "The Teaching of Psychiatry to Medical Students," American Journal of Psychiatry (May 1973): 559-562.
  • Romano, John, ed. To Each His Farthest Star: University of Rochester Medical Center, 1925-1975. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Medical Center, 1975.
  • Romano, John. "Emotional and Psychological Responses to Anesthesia and Surgery," American Journal of Psychiatry (Jan. 1981): 133-134.
  • Romano, John. "The Chronic Mentally Ill: Treatment, Programs, Systems," American Journal of Psychiatry (Oct. 1982): 1364-1365.
  • Romano, John. "Treating the Long-Term Mentally Ill," American Journal of Psychiatry (Sept. 1984): 1120-1121.


  1. ^ "Rochester Psychiatric Center Community Services". Office of Mental Health. Retrieved June 20, 2014.


  • Kaufman, Sharon R. The Healers Tale: Transforming Medicine and Culture. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993.
  • McIntyre, John S. "John Romano, M.D., 1908-1994," American Journal of Psychiatry (July 1995): 1065.
  • Joynt, Robert J. "John Romano, MD, November 20, 1908, to June 19, 1995," Archives of General Psychiatry (Dec. 1995): 1076.
  • Cohen, Jules, and Stephanie Brown Clark. John Romano and George Engel: Their Lives and Work. Rochester, NY: Meliora Press, 2010.