major Discoveries

Major Discoveries

William Krauss, Ph.G., M.D., published the first paper on the pathological aspects of malarial hematuria.

William Krauss, Ph.G., M.D., published the first paper on the pathological aspects of malarial hematuria.

Dr. Krauss also introduced the use of the oil immersion microscopic lens in Memphis for high-power diagnostic work, and he persistently encouraged his fellow physicians to utilize the clinical pathologic tests for diagnostic purposes that today we regard as standard procedure. He was heavily involved in important advances in public health endeavors statewide in Tennessee and was a national figure among public health authorities. Dr. Krauss was a professor of pathology and a lecturer on tropical medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Memphis from 1906-1909; then he became a professor of pathology and tropical medicine at the newly merged University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1911. Dr. Krauss was also a recognized authority on malaria, having published in 1897 the first of several important papers on the pathological aspects of malarial hematuria. This Renaissance individual also became a pioneer radiation therapist in Memphis, and like many of these early radiologists, he suffered radiation burns on his left hand that eventually cost him his life.


Charles Morgan Hammond, M.D., designed the first motor-driven respirator (prototype for the iron lung).

Dr. Hammond received his M.D. degree from the Memphis Hospital Medical College in 1902 and practiced medicine in Memphis, as well as in Mississippi and Arkansas. Dr. Hammond applied for a patent for his respirator on January 12, 1911, and his patent was issued from Washington, D.C., on February 24, 1914. Earlier in 1912, this "mechanical lung" had passed its first clinical test at the Memphis City Hospital. In 1914, his device was the first artificial respirator to save a human life. By 1919, Dr. Hammond had built a cabinet-type respirator, but due to a lack of financial backing, he was never able to transfer his invention into mass production. When he failed to renew his patent after it expired, his claim to be the first inventor of the respirator was obscured, but it was later vindicated.


John Jones Ogden, D.D.S., was the first dentist in Tennessee to limit his practice to oral surgery.

Dr. Ogden graduated from the UT College of Dentistry in 1916 and was appointed a chief demonstrator in the clinic from 1916-1917. Dr. Ogden served intermittently on the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry faculty as a professor of Oral Surgery for many years. From 1920 until his death in 1963, he was a Fellow of the American Society of Oral Surgeons and was very active in promoting that dental specialty. He is well known as the designer of the parallel forceps used universally in anterior maxillary tooth extraction. Dr. Ogden was a Fellow of the American College of Dentists, a vice president of the American Dental Association and in 1932, he was elected President of the Tennessee State Dental Association. In 1929, he helped found a chapter of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Honor Society of dentists on campus.


The accomplishments of James Etteldorf, M.D. include conducting the first exchange transfusion to a child in Memphis and the first use of penicillin in treating meningitis in Memphis; being the first physician in the Mid-South to procure and use ACTH for the treatment of leukemia and for treatment of nephrosis; and  successfully treating tuberculosis meningitis in Memphis; he pioneered the technique of peritoneal dialysis for managing renal failure and salicylate poisoning in children.

The accomplishments of James Etteldorf, M.D. include conducting the first exchange transfusion to a child in Memphis and the first use of penicillin in treating meningitis in Memphis; being the first physician in the Mid-South to procure and use ACTH for the treatment of leukemia and for treatment of nephrosis; and successfully treating tuberculosis meningitis in Memphis; he pioneered the technique of peritoneal dialysis for managing renal failure and salicylate poisoning in children.

Dr. E, as he was affectionately known, came to UT in 1932 where he taught part time and attended the School of Biological Sciences part time. His initial goal was to pursue a Ph.D. in pharmacology, but he decided in favor of the broader training of medicine and obtained his M.D. degree from the UT College of Medicine in 1942. His internship and pediatric residency were taken at the John Gaston Hospital, plus one additional year at St. Louis Children's Hospital. He also administered a postdoctoral training grant, which was awarded to him in the late 1950s and funded by the NIH for a record 18 years.


Alys Lipscomb, M.D.,  pioneered the planning and implementation necessary for diagnostic and therapeutic appreciation and radio nuclides in Memphis.

Alys Lipscomb, M.D., pioneered the planning and implementation necessary for diagnostic and therapeutic appreciation and radio nuclides in Memphis.

After graduating from UT Knoxville, Alys Lipscomb was employed as a chemist in the university's hospital. Her interest in medicine grew with each year of her employment, and in the fall of 1940, she entered the UT School of Biological Sciences as a graduate student in physiology, and continuing through 1941. She entered the UT College of Medicine in 1942 and continued her graduate work in physiology, receiving an M.S. degree in 1944. Her performance in medical school was so outstanding that when she received her M.D. degree in 1945, she was awarded a three-year fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. The William E. Lower Prize, given each year for the most outstanding thesis among third-year fellowship students at the Cleveland Clinic, was awarded to her. She was also responsible for determining the blood volume in patients with sickle cell anemia during times of crisis as well as stabilized periods using radioisotope techniques.


John Shea, M.D. is credited with the creation of artificial stapes (ears).

Dr. Shea was a UT faculty member and one of the best-known physicians in Memphis, both nationally and internationally. He received his medical degree from Harvard University in 1947 and interned at Bellevue Hospital in New York with and an additional year at Harvard specializing in the basic sciences related to otolaryngology. He then served a residency Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, he worked in the autopsy room of the Pathology Department in a hospital in Vienna, Austria, dissecting thousands of ears, trying to work out in his own mind a possible cure for otosclerosis. As a result, the positive outcome of artificial stape placements and the dramatic improvement in patients led to this operation becoming a standard procedure throughout the otolaryngology world.


Joe Hall Morris invented the Bi-Phase External Skeletal Fixation Splint in 1947 and developed it through 1949, when he first published this medical contribution in scientific literature.

Joe Hall Morris invented the Bi-Phase External Skeletal Fixation Splint in 1947 and developed it through 1949, when he first published this medical contribution in scientific literature.

The University of Tennessee Head Frame was also developed to give skeletal fixation and angle of traction to facial bones; such positioning was most difficult to achieve before the development of this head frame. Dr. Morris also conceived the idea for the Orthognathic Surgery Stimulating Instrument (O.S.S.I.) in 1973 and refined the design through 1979. For some time afterward, all of the University of Tennessee orthognathic surgery utilized the O.S.S.I. in treatment planning and pre-operative fabrication of intraoperative occlusal acrylic splints. This instrument has had a significant impact on the field of orthognathic surgery, and its importance rapidly gained international acclaim.


Paul Quigley, Ph.D., was the first to demonstrate that chyme passing through the pyloric sphincter, which rhythmically opens and shuts, is driven by gastric mobility.

During the Quigley era (1947-1964), the Department of Physiology and Biophysics quadrupled its faculty size and developed a vital graduate program (17 doctoral and 11 master's degrees). It was a golden era academically for the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, with excellent teachers and recognized accomplished researchers. He and Dr. Daniel A. Brody invented the inductograph, which enabled them to measure the motility of the pylorus in situ.


Donald Zilversmit, Ph.D., was the founder and first editor of the Journal of Lipid Research.

Dr. Zilversmit was one of the favorite lecturers among the UT students. He always arrived precisely on time for his scheduled lecture, and with a dramatic entrance, he slammed the door after him - no student ever dared enter the closed lecture hall afterward. The old doors in the Wittenborg Building lecture rooms had frosted glass panels in the upper portion. Every time he slammed the door violently and launched rapidly into his lecture, the glass in the door would quiver and shake. Students always expected the glass to shatter one day, but it never did, as he evidently knew exactly the amount of force to use. One of his more famous quotes that remained with his old students years afterwards dealt with his lecture on the male reproductive system, specifically spermatozoa, which he compared to college student aspiring to enter medical school - "many are called, but few are chosen."


Dick Overman was the first researcher in Memphis to use radioactive materials.

Dr. Overman came to the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1945 as an instructor in the Department of Physiology. He published the first paper on the use of flame photometry for sodium and potassium determination in biological fluids, and he introduced this method into local clinical investigative efforts. He was also instrumental in introducing infrared absorption spectroscopy and atomic absorption spectrometry to clinical studies. In addition, the first blood, extra-cellular fluid, and total body water measurement on patients was performed in his laboratory. He was almost singularly responsible for the early functional integration that occurred between the basic and clinical sciences. In 1952, Dr. Overman was responsible for the establishment of the Institute of Clinical Investigation, which was physically located in the old Institute of Pathology and housed in the Division of Clinical Physiology, the Division of Clinical Chemistry, and the Division of Experimental Surgery.


James Pate, M.D., was the first surgeon in the United States to replace a heart valve with an artificial valve in pediatric surgery.

Dr. Pate was a national leader in developing several new techniques for open-heart surgery. In addition to his strides in pediatric surgery, he was also the first surgeon to replace a heart valve and implant a pacemaker for emergency surgery, following a gunshot wound of the heart. After years of preliminary preparation, Dr. Pate performed the first heart transplant in Memphis at the Baptist Memorial Hospital. He authored more than 125 papers primarily dealing with cardiovascular surgery and the physiology related to surgery and transplantation.


William Murrah used the Zeiss light photo-coagulator to treat the first retinal condition reported in Memphis.

Use of the device in treating a retinal condition was reported in the Journal of the State Medical Association in July of 1960 by Dr. Murrah. This case was the first patient so treated and reported in the Mid-South area.


Lester VanMiddlesworth, Ph.D., M.D., discovered that the thyroid gland stored radioactive iodine.

Lester VanMiddlesworth, Ph.D., M.D., discovered that the thyroid gland stored radioactive iodine.

In 1960, Dr. VanMiddlesworth reported his results of studying several thousand thyroid glands from cattle on four continents, noting the increase in radioactive iodine levels after atomic bomb testing. This original concept provided an important, easily measurable method for determining the amount of radioactive fallout throughout the world after atomic or hydrogen bomb testing. He received a Career Research Award from the National Institutes of Health, and this award has continued annually beginning in 1965. Dr. VanMiddlesworth closed his lab in 2010.


Billy Pennel was involved in research that led to the first free gingival graft and originally described this procedure to the Philadelphia Society of Periodontology in 1964.

Dr. Pennel graduated from the UT College of Dentistry in 1951. He served as professor and chair of the UT Department of Periodontia through 1968. Other contributions he made include: the development of standardized intra-oral photographic techniques for evaluating surgical treatment results, the response and repair of bone following mucoperiosteal flap and osseous surgery, and the clinical appearance and histologic repair of tissue involved in mucogingival surgery.


Lemuel Diggs, M.D., along with William and Lorraine Kraus, discovered a new, abnormal hemoglobin and named them 'Hemoglobin Memphis.'

Lemuel Diggs, M.D., along with William and Lorraine Kraus, discovered a new, abnormal hemoglobin and named them "Hemoglobin Memphis."

With his professional affiliation established and his medical interest piqued, Dr. Diggs began the journey to find the pathophysiology of sickle cell disease that would last 65 years. He was an excellent teacher of clinical pathology, and he pioneered the training of medical technologists at UT In 1938, he organized the first blood bank in the South at the John Gaston Hospital. Along with Ann Bell and Dorothy Sturm, he authored The Morphology of Human Blood Cells in 1954, which is still in publication.


John Devincenzo, M.D., professor and researcher in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), proved for the first time that a totally new concept in drug design can be used to treat human disease.

Dr. Devincenzo, who also served as a children's infectious diseases specialist at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, conducted his study at the Children's Foundation Research Center, a UT Health Science Center partner located at Le Bonheur. The new drug design concept is that a simple chain of sugars called RNA (Ribonucleic Acid*) can be easily designed on laptop computers and then synthesized into powerful disease-fighting therapies. The therapies work by shutting down disease-causing genes through a process known as RNA interference (RNAi). The discovery of this natural process of RNAi was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2006. RNAi drugs had shown promise in test tube studies and in animals, but had never been shown to work in humans. Realizing the potential power of the new discovery, Dr. DeVincenzo and his team tackled the virus called RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), the most common cause of hospitalization of infants and an infection with no therapy or vaccine. Healthy adults contract only rare, mild RSV infections that disappear without medical intervention.


Corrective gene therapy for advanced prostate cancer began clinical testing at the UTHSC Clinical Research Center at UT Bowld Hospital.


Dr. Peter Doherty of UT Memphis is the city''s first Nobel Prize winner is honored with one of the world''s first holographic monuments.

Dr. Peter Doherty of UT Memphis is the city's first Nobel Prize winner is honored with one of the world's first holographic monuments.

His pioneering research in immunology led to a better understanding of organ rejection after transplants, better comprehension of genetic susceptibility to disease, and new approaches to vaccines.


UT physicians are among the first in the Mid-South to perform a new procedure to treat abnormal uterine bleeding.


UT Memphis researchers announce brain stem cell breakthrough, successfully reproducing adult human brain cells in vitro.

UT Memphis researchers announce brain stem cell breakthrough, successfully reproducing adult human brain cells in vitro.

Drs. Valery Kukekov (left) and Tatyana Ignatova are leading an effort to combine the fields of tumor cell and stem cell biology in a new program established at UTHSC.


The Journal of the American Medical Association describes results of a Phase 1 clinical trial of a streptococcal vaccine that was invented in Memphis at the VA Medical Center and UTHSC. This is the first strep vaccine to be tested in humans in more than 25 years.


A technology developed by a researcher in the College of Health Science Engineering was recognized in Time Magazine as "One of the Most Amazing Inventions of 2004."

A vein-contrast-enhancement device known as OnTarget, makes vein access easier by capturing an infrared image of the veins.


UTHSC researchers find a new way to treat insulin resistance, one of the major impediments to recovery for burn victims.

Victims of burns and other major trauma often suffer from a condition known as the "diabetes of trauma" when their bodies become unable to properly maintain a balance of sugar in their blood. This leads to increased infections, longer hospital stays, muscle loss and death in these patients. However, research by postdoctoral research associate Sherry Kasper of the department of surgery in UTHSC's Graduate School of Medicine has found a new approach to treating the insulin resistance associated with burn injury. She presented her research at the annual Experimental Biology conference in April.


An international team of researchers from UTHSC, University of Wollongong (Australia), University of California, San Diego and Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (Germany) discovered an explanation for how a deadly strain of "flesh-eating" bacteria evolved to produce serious human infections worldwide.

The research, reported July 15, 2007, in an advance online publication of the journal Nature Medicine, focuses on the major human pathogen Group A streptococcus ("strep").


A product based on research conducted at UTHSC selected by the Better World Project as one of the top 100 examples from across the globe of how innovation from academic research makes its way to the market.

The compound -- RX100 -- is designed to protect the human body when it is exposed to radiation.


Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and UTHSC project to use advanced technology to screen for eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration.

In cooperation with Ken Tobin, PhD, at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Dr. Edward Chaum has developed a method for physicians at remote locations to photograph patients' retinas and instantly send those images to an online database where the photos are compared to thousands of other photos of diseased retinas. The system then returns a diagnosis to the remote location, informing the physician whether the patient may have a retinal disease such as diabetic retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration and suggesting a course of action.