Dickinson Woodruff Richards, Jr., Jr., Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1956 (1895 - 1973)

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About Dickinson Woodruff Richards, Jr., Jr., Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1956

Dr. Dickinson Woodruff Richards, Jr. (October 30, 1895 – February 23, 1973) was an American physician and physiologist. He was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1956 with André Cournand and Werner Forssmann for the development of cardiac catheterization and the characterisation of a number of cardiac diseases.

Richards was born in Orange, New Jersey. He was educated at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, and entered Yale University in 1913. At Yale he studied English and Greek, graduating in 1917 as a member of the senior society Scroll and Key. He also joined the United States Army in 1917, and became an artillery instructor. He served from 1918 - 1919 as an artillery officer in France.

When he returned to the United States, Richards attended Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating with an M.A. in 1922 and his M.D. degree in 1923. He was on the staff of the Presbyterian Hospital in New York until 1927, when he went to England to work at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, under Sir Henry Dale, on the control of circulation in the liver.

In 1928 Richards returned to the Presbyterian Hospital and began his research on pulmonary and circulatory physiology, working under Professor Lawrence Henderson of Harvard. He began collaborations with André Cournand at Bellevue Hospital , New York, working on pulmonary function. Initially their research focussed on methods to study pulmonary function in patients with pulmonary disease.

Their next area of research was the development of a technique for catheterization of the heart. Using this technique they were able to study and characterise traumatic shock, the physiology of heart failure. They measured the effects of cardiac drugs, and described various forms of dysfunction in chronic cardiac diseases and pulmonary diseases and their treatment, and developed techniques for the diagnosis of congenital heart diseases. For this work, André Cournand and Werner Forssmann, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for 1956.

In 1945 Richards moved his lab to Bellevue Hospital, New York. In 1947 he was made the Lambert Professor of Medicine at Columbia University, where he had taught since 1925. During his career he also served as an advisor to Merck Sharp and Dohme Company, and edited the Merck Manual. Richards retired from his positions at Bellevue and Columbia in 1961.

Richards received many other honors, including the John Phillips Memorial Award of the American College of Physicians in 1960, the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur in 1963, the Trudeau Medal in 1968, and the Kober Medal of the Association of American Physicians in 1970.

He died in Lakeville, Connecticut

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Dickinson Woodruff Richards Jr. was born on October 30, 1895, in Orange, New Jersey, U.S.A. He is the son of Dickinson W. Richards, a New York lawyer and Sally Lambert, whose father and three of her brothers practised medicine in New York. He was educated at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, and, in 1913, went to Yale University to study English and Greek. In June, 1917, he was given his A.B. degree, but had, three months earlier, joined the United States Army. After a period as instructor in artillery during 1917-1918, Richards served, during 1918-1919 as an artillery officer in France.

After the war, Richards entered Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and received his M.A. degree in physiology in 1922, and his M.D. degree in 1923. He then spent the years 1923-1927 on the Staff of the Presbyterian Hospital, New York, and then went to work for a year at the National Institute for Medical Research, London, under Sir Henry Dale, on the control of the circulation in the liver.

Returning to the Presbyterian Hospital and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Richards began his researches on pulmonary and circulatory physiology under the direction of Professor L. J. Henderson of Harvard.

In 1931 he began to collaborate with André Cournand at the Bellevue Hospital, New York, and this work resulted, in 1940, in the development of a technique for catheterization of the heart and in studies (carried out between 1941 and 1956) of traumatic shock, the diagnosis of congenital heart diseases, the physiology of heart failure, measurement of the actions of cardiac drugs, and various forms of dysfunction in chronic cardiac and pulmonary diseases and their treatment. For this work he was awarded, together with André Cournand and Werner Forssmann, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for 1956.

From 1935 onwards he has been medical adviser to Merck & Co., Inc., New Jersey.

In 1945 Richards was appointed Professor of Medicine at Columbia University and Visiting Physician and Director of the First (Columbia) Division of the Bellevue Hospital, New York, and in 1947 he became Lambert Professor of Medicine.

In 1961 he retired from this Chair and became Emeritus Lambert Professor.

Professor Richards is a former Editor of The American Review of Tuberculosis, and was also on the Editorial Board of Medicine and of Circulation.

Richards married in 1931 Constance Burrell Riley, they have four daughters: Ida Elizabeth (Mrs. Robert W. Chamberlin, Jr.), Gertrude Woodruff (Mrs. Isaac Daw Russell), Ann Huntington Richards, and Constance Lord Richards.

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Dickinson Richards, Jr., Jr., Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1956's Timeline

1895
October 30, 1895
1973
February 23, 1973
Age 77