Personal heroes

Marcus Krupp, MD

After his residency, Marcus Krupp, MD, served as a U.S. Army physician in the United States and Philippines . In 1946 he returned to San Francisco to work at the VA hospital. In 1950 the Palo Alto Medical Research Foundation recruited him to direct research, which he did until retiring in 1986. From 1946 through 1997 he made teaching rounds at Stanford. In 1987 he won Stanford’s esteemed Hewlett award, for the use of “biologic knowledge, wisdom and compassion to return patients to productive lives.” Krupp celebrated his 90th birthday in February.

Med school 1930’s style meant one-on-one with medicine’s giants

By Joyce Thomas

Photographs by Meredith Heuer and courtesy of Lane Library

Marcus A. Krupp, MD, who came from a small mining town in Arizona , decided at a very young age that he wanted to become a doctor; he also decided that Stanford was the place to go. The decision was just that simple and uncomplicated, says Krupp. “And I got in,” he adds.

His admission interview was likewise uncomplicated. In 1933 Krupp was interviewed by just one person, George DeForest Barnett, MD, chief of Stanford medical service and a one-man admissions committee. The interview involved an evening of conversation at Barnett’s home. “We spent an entire evening together,” says Krupp. “We talked about a variety of things. What did I like to read? What music did I listen to? He never asked about my plans or about medicine.”

The interviewer, already honored for his devotion to patients and students, taught the skills of physical diagnosis at San Francisco County Hospital and talked with men and women barely out of their teens who wanted to study medicine at Stanford.

Barnett and others like him were giants, says Krupp; they were heroes whom young med students and residents like Krupp, class of 1939 and residency class of 1942, grew to admire and emulate. Furthermore these heroes shared their knowledge and individuality on an everyday basis. Classes were taught not by instructors but by department heads.

Arthur Bloomfield, MD, head of the Department of Medicine (1926-54), and others of his stature made rounds daily, on Monday and Wednesday visiting the men’s ward and on Tuesday and Thursday the women’s. Grand rounds on Friday consisted not of a lecture, as now, but actual one-on-one medical rounds, says Krupp, with Bloomfield discussing each case at the bedside of three to five patients who had been moved to one location for the event.

Students and residents lived simply in apartment houses close to the hospital. Residents received $25 per month, room and board and uniforms; a chief resident made $75. But a wonderful camaraderie existed, Krupp recalls. “They were men we got to know, whom we saw daily, who participated in everyday teaching, who were interesting — and as interested in us as we were in them,” he says.

George De'Forest Barnett, MD, and Leo Eloesser, MD

George De'Forest Barnett, MD, (second from left) and Leo Eloesser, MD (in dark suit) were among the faculty heroes of Marcus Krupp, MD.

There were no MRIs, no CT scans, no antibiotics, few useful drugs and the only vaccine was for smallpox. There was little other than aspirin, codeine, morphine, digitalis, thyroid hormone and saline and glucose IVs and milk of magnesia and castor oil. Treatment for infectious diseases involved bed rest; not much more could be done for diseases such as rheumatic fever, typhoid fever and tuberculosis.

Since then, the explosion of knowledge and progress in medicine at Stanford and elsewhere has been exponential, amounting to a cosmic change. But Krupp says the foundation — in anatomy, neuroanatomy, neurosurgery, pharmacology, physiology, surgery, understanding of the development of disease and of medicine — was built by heroes in medicine including Barnett, Bloomfield, Thomas Addis, Leo Eloesser, Paul Hanzlik, Joseph Hinsey, Emile Holman and others. These “big, important individuals taught us,” says Krupp. They were giants.

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