Philip Hillkowitz The “Granddaddy of Medical Technologists” and Cofounder of the American Society for Clinical Pathologists and the Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society
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CONTEXT: - In the early 20th century, the future of hospital-based clinical pathology practice was uncertain and this situation led to the formation of the American Society for Clinical Pathologists in 1922. Philip Hillkowitz, MD, and Ward Burdick, MD, were its cofounders. No biography of Hillkowitz exists. OBJECTIVE: - To explore the life, beliefs, and accomplishments of Philip Hillkowitz. DESIGN: - Available primary and secondary historical sources were reviewed. RESULTS: - Hillkowitz, the son of a Russian rabbi, immigrated to America as an 11-year-old child in 1885. He later attended medical school in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then moved to Colorado, where he began his clinical practice, which transitioned into a clinical pathology practice. In Denver, he met Charles Spivak, MD, another Jewish immigrant and together they established the Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society, an ethnically sensitive tuberculosis sanatorium that flourished in the first half of the 20th century because of its national fundraising network. In 1921, Hillkowitz and Burdick, also a Denver-based pathologist, successively organized the pathologists in Denver, followed by the state of Colorado. Early the next year, they formed the American Society for Clinical Pathologists (ASCP). Working with the American College of Surgeons, the ASCP put hospital-based practice of clinical pathology on solid footing in the 1920s. Hillkowitz then established and oversaw the ASCP Board of Registry of Medical Technologists. CONCLUSIONS: - Philip Hillkowitz changed the directions of clinical pathology and tuberculosis treatment in 20th century America, while simultaneously serving as a successful ethnic power broker within both the American Jewish and Eastern European immigrant communities.
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