Thirteen/WNET PBS

Innovators & Pioneers

Bernard Fantus

Born: September 1, 1874
Died: April 14, 1940
Nationality: Hungarian
Occupation: physician, professor

Dr. Fantus was born in Budapest, September 1, 1874. He attended the Real-Gymnasium in Vienna, came to America, continued his studies at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and received his M.D. degree in 1899. From 1902 to 1913 he was in charge of the Medical Dispensary at his alma mater. In 1908 he continued his postgraduate work at the University of Strasbourg and again in 1909 at the University of Berlin. He received a degree of Master of Science at the University of Michigan in 1917.

He was made Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1903, which position he held until his death except for a period from 1924 to 1932 when he was Associate Professor of Medicine at Rush Medical College, teaching the clinical therapeutic courses which had previously been conducted by the well known Walter S. Haines.

Dr. Fantus' primary interest was in therapeutics. During the forty years of his practice he was the liaison officer between druggist and physician. The problems of cooperation between the two were laid at his door and received intelligent consideration. Druggists everywhere have remarked of late that "Pharmacy has lost its best friend in the medical profession." It was the intimate details of prescription writing and compounding which early received his attention. One is therefore not surprised that he was elected as a member of the Revision Committee of the United States Pharmacopoeia National Formulae and Recipe Book, nor that he was at all times actively participating in the affairs of the American Pharmaceutical Association. His books included works on prescription writing, candy medication, useful cathartics and the technic of medication. More recently he had been hard at work on "The Therapy of the Cook County Hospital" published from time to time in the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION. His interest in the technic and art of medical therapeutics stimulated him to develop the Solutions Laboratory of the Cook County Hospital where he was director of Therapeutics. Special study was given to the reactions following intravenous administration of fluids. The exceedingly careful preparation of containers, solutions and tubing has resulted in almost complete absence of such reactions.

For twenty-two years Dr. Fantus acted as Editor of the YEAR BOOK OF GENERAL THERAPEUTICS, completing the 1939 edition just previous to his death. He was also editor of Merck's MANUAL and for twenty years edited the DIGEST OF THERAPEUTICS.

Dr. Fantus was the originator of the plan to form a convalescent park in the space between the Cook County Hospital, The Presbyterian Hospital, the Student YMCA and Rush Medical College. Through continued effort this large area has been cleared and planted. The new clinic building of the Cook County Hospital has been named in his honor.

From the layman's view the chief contribution of Dr. Fantus was in the establishment of the blood bank on March 15, 1937. This has been of inestimable value in an institution where the turn over is rapid and emergencies constantly at hand. No one acquainted with the situations constantly arising in large general hospitals doubts its value.

Dr. Fantus was a stimulating teacher. He inspired many younger men to investigate problems of therapeutics. He was interested in the health of the community. One of his last appearances was before a meeting of the Chicago Medical Society at which time he urged the society to broadcast the picture of acute appendicitis that the public might better appreciate the onset and symptoms of appendicitis, and the serious effects of delay and catharsis. He counseled the officers to spread the news by public education as has been done elsewhere.

He was a member of Phi Rho Sigma and Alpha Omega Alpha, of the Chicago Society of Internal Medicine as well as the American Medical Association, and the American Pharmaceutical Society. In 1933 he received the first honorary degree from the American Therapeutic Association for his work on more palatable mixtures of cod liver oil and castor oil. ...

-- LeRoy H. Sloan, M.D., F.A.C.P., Governor of Northern Illinois

Source: An excerpt from "Dr. Bernard Fantus" (Obituary) by L. Sloan. ANNALS OF INTERNAL MEDICINE, 1940; 13:2371-2372.