Murphy, William P.

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1892-02-06
Death 1987-10-09

Biographical notes:

William Parry Murphy was an American physician who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1934 with George Richards Minot and George Hoyt Whipple for their combined work in devising and treating pernicious anemia. He taught at Harvard Medical School in varying capacities from 1924 to 1958. He was associated with the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.

From the description of Papers, 1919-1950s. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 281454961

William Parry Murphy (1892-1987), A.B., University of Oregon, Eugene; 1914, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, was Senior Associate in Medicine at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and Lecturer in Medicine Emeritus at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. Murphy’s research focused on pernicious anemia and its treatment with liver and liver extract, leukemia, and diabetes mellitus. With George Richards Minot (1885-1950) and George Hoyt Whipple (1878-1976), he is credited with developing a treatment for pernicious anemia using a diet of uncooked liver, for which all three were awarded the 1934 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

William Parry Murphy was born in Stoughton, Wisconsin, in 1892, to Thomas Francis Murphy (born 1852), a congregational minister, and Rose Anna Parry Murphy (born 1864). In 1914, he received his A.B. from the University of Oregon, Eugene, and between 1914 and 1916 he taught physics and mathematics at various high schools in Oregon. He attended the University of Oregon Medical School, Portland (1916-1917), and completed a summer course at Rush Medical School, Chicago, Illinois (1917). Murphy was later awarded the first Stanislaus Murphy Fellowship to attend Harvard Medical School, where he received his M.D. in 1922. Between 1920 and 1922, he served as House Officer at the Rhode Island Hospital, Providence. In 1922, he was appointed Assistant Resident Physician at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (1922-1923), and in 1923 became Assistant in Medicine at Harvard Medical School (1923-1928). His subsequent appointments at Harvard Medical School include Instructor in Medicine (1928-1935), Associate in Medicine (1935-1958), and Lecturer in Medicine Emeritus (1958). His subsequent appointments at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital include: Junior Associate in Medicine (1923-1928); Associate in Medicine (1928-1935); Senior Associate in Medicine (1935-1958); and Senior Associate in Medicine Emeritus and Consultant in Hematology (1958). Throughout his career, he served as a consulting physician for the Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Melrose Hospital, Massachusetts, and the Quincy City Hospital, Massachusetts.

Murphy’s research focused on diseases of the blood, primarily pernicious anemia, leukemia, and diabetes mellitus. His early research concerned blood transfusions, and he is credited with developing a blood transfusion process that could be administered outside of a hospital. With George R. Minot and George H. Whipple he is credited with developing a treatment for pernicious anemia using a diet of uncooked liver, for which they were awarded the 1934 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Murphy is also credited with refining liver extract (as developed by Edwin J. Cohn (1892-1953) as a substitute for raw liver throughout his career. Additional awards and honors include: with George R. Minot, the Cameron Prize of the University of Edinburgh, for their work on pernicious anemia (1930); the Bronze Medal of the American Medical Association for his exhibit demonstrating the methods of treating anemia with liver extract; the Gold Medal of the Massachusetts Humane Society (1935); the National Order of Merit, Carlos J. Finlay, Official, Cuba (1952); and the Decoration-Commander of the First Rank, Order of the White Rose, Finland (1934). Murphy was a member of numerous professional societies, including: the American Medical Association; the American Society for Clinical Investigation; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the International Society of Hematology; the Society of Arts and Sciences; and the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, as well as served two terms of presidency for the Brookline Rotary Club, Massachusetts. Murphy served on the editorial boards of both Acta Haematologica and Modern Medicine. Murphy’s publications include the film, “Pernicious Anemia” (circa 1934), and the book Anemia in Practice: Pernicious Anemia (1939), among over seventy scientific papers concerning hematologic diseases.

William Parry Murphy married Pearl Harriett Adams (died 1980), the first licensed female dentist in Massachusetts, in 1919. They had a daughter, Priscilla Adams Murphy (1920-1936), and a son, William P. Murphy, Jr., M.D. (born 1923). Murphy died on 9 October 1987, in Brookline, Massachusetts.

From the guide to the William Parry Murphy papers, 1906-1987 (inclusive), 1919-1987 (bulk)., (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.Center for the History of Medicine.)

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Subjects:

  • Nobel prizes
  • Anemia
  • Research

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