I stumbled across the life story of an amazing American you’ve probably never heard of but should. His name is Joseph B. Kirsner, MD, PhD, and he’s been a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago Medical Center since 1935. That’s over 70 years!
This fact alone is startling enough, but it turns out ol’ Doc Kirsner is also quite the pioneer in gastroenterology (a medical specialty involving digestive health and nutrition) and served as a doctor in the US Army Medical Corps during WW2. Still with me? Good. Just listen to his honors as detailed on the UIC website:
“Kirsner has helped transform the specialty of gastroenterology from an art–in his words, “speculative, impressionistic, anecdotal, almost mystical at times”–into a science. He has won every award in the field, except one, for which he is not eligible: the American Digestive Health Foundation’s Joseph B. Kirsner Award.”
Now is that fair? He couldn’t win that award…simply because it’s NAMED after him? HA! Anyway, they continue on and here’s where GIjOE fans begin to get really interested…
“The author of more than 750 scientific papers and almost 20 books, Kirsner has become the subject of a new book. GI Joe: The Life and Career of Dr. Joseph B. Kirsner, a 305-page biography of Kirsner. During World War 2, Kirsner served as an Army doctor in Europe, where he was called to consult on the difficult issue of re-feeding those who had nearly starved in the Nazi concentration camps. Soon after VE Day, he was shipped off to the Pacific Theater, where he advised on the rehabilitation of more prisoners of war, including a group being held captive in Nagasaki in August 1945 when the second atomic bomb obliterated much of the city.”
Kirsner has had a career lasting twice as long as most, and his life story is inspiring to say the least. I asked how Kirsner is doing now, and according to UIC Senior Science Writer John Easton…
“He is now 102 and still counting. He’s doing well, still comes into the office–but not as often or for as long.”
What an inspiring man. What tremendous service to his country and mankind. Thank you, Dr. Kirsner! It would be great to honor such a man as a custom figure! If you’re interested in reading more about his life, his biography is available directly from the UIC on THIS PAGE.