William Hallock Park (1863 - 1939)

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About William Hallock Park


William Hallock Park (December 30, 1863 – April 6, 1939) was an American bacteriologist and Laboratory Director, New York City Board of Health, Division of Pathology, Bacteriology, and Disinfection 1893 to 1936


Park was born on December 30, 1863 in New York City.

In June 1883 he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from City College and entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons to study medicine. He studied pathology with Dr. Theophil Mitchell Prudden planning to become a nose and throat specialist. After Park graduated in 1893 he interned at Roosevelt Hospital and had a year of post-graduate study in Vienna, Austria. On his return in 1890 Park worked on the bacteriology of diphtheria with Dr. Prudden.

In 1893 Dr Herman M. Biggs, Chief Inspector, New York Board of Health offered Park a position within the municipal laboratories to work to prevent diphtheria. In 1894, Dr Biggs telegraphed Park with the news of the discovery of the diphtheria antitoxin by Roux and Behring and instructed him to begin inoculating horses to produce antitoxin in New York City. The atypical strain of Corynebacterium diphtheriae, most widely used for the production of diphtheria toxin, was discovered by Anna W. Williams who worked for William H. Park.

Highlights of Park's career included the establishment of the first municipal bacteriological diagnostics laboratory in the United States, the application of toxin-antitoxin vaccines to prevent diphtheria, and the publication of the widely used textbook Pathogenic Bacteriology co-authored with Anna Wessels Williams. In 1932 he was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

Damaging to his reputation was the attenuated live polio vaccine developed by Maurice Brodie that resulted in vaccine-derived cases of polio in children inoculated with this experimental vaccine.

Dr. Park retired as Director of the Research laboratories of the Public Health Department of New York City in September 1936 and died in April 1939.

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William Hallock Park's Timeline

Age 76