The first scientific article Saul Krugman wrote appeared when he was 39 years old; he eventually wrote more than 250 articles, and was the co-author of a leading text on infectious diseases, Krugman's Infectious Diseases of Children, with a tenth edition published in 1998. His most frequently cited article, "Infectious Hepatitis: Evidence for Two Distinctive Clinical, Epidemiological, and Immunological Types of Infection" JAMA , 200(5):365-73, 1967, appears in Morton's Medical Bibliography, a compilation of the most important works in the history of medicine. Click here for a listing of abstracts of Dr. Krugman's published works in the NYU Health Sciences Library's Faculty bibliography.
The focus of Dr. Krugman's efforts was the prevention and control of infectious diseases. He and his colleagues evaluated and helped formulate the policies for clinical use of the newly developed vaccines against poliomeyelitis, measles, rubella and hepatitis B. In the course of these efforts, he actively participated in studies around the world - Nigeria, Israel, Greece, Taiwan, Japan, New Zealand - giving generously of his knowledge and experience.
Dr. Krugman's most important scientific achievements were in the unraveling of the mysteries of "infectious hepatitis." In the mid-1950's, endemic infectious diseases punctuated by epidemics were a constant cause for concern at the Willowbrook State School. The Medical Superintendent turned for assistance to Saul Krugman and his close friend and colleague, Robert Ward, as experts in infectious diseases. The problem of measles, lethal in that environment, was quickly solved with the new vaccine, which was licensed in the U.S. in 1963. Hepatitis, however, absorbed the energies of Krugman and Ward, later joined by Joan Giles, for many years.
Starting with careful clinical and epidemiological studies, they discovered that virtually the entire patient population and staff became infected shortly after arrival at the institution unless they had been previously infected. Most infections had gone unrecognized until Krugman and Ward arrived. And more surprisingly two clinically distinct types of hepatitis, now known as hepatitis A and B, actually co-existed at Willowbrook. The many cases of so-called "relapse" had actually been reinfections with a different virus.
An inspired leap of imagination led to exposing pooled serum from patients with hepatitis B to a temperature of 98 degrees Fahrenheit for just one minute. Administration of the serum to susceptible subjects conferred immunity without causing infection. The course was now set for the eventual control of hepatitis B, the more serious of the two diseases. The uniqueness of an experiment that required only a hot plate, needle and syringe to perform, and yet had such enormous health implications was accorded an immediate, enthusiastic reception by the medical community.
Tackling a major world problem and offering a solution is enough to earn an individual a place in medical history. But Krugman gave the world much more than that. Author of the leading text in infectious diseases, popular lecturer and indefatigable traveler, he was well known to clinicians. Generous to his colleagues with those precious, meticulously annotated frozen serum samples and equally valuable advice, he was just as familiar to academicians. Possessed of extensive experience and excellent judgment, Saul Krugman was commonly called upon to participate in health policy decisions here and abroad: consultant to the Bureau of Biologics, member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Virus Diseases, Chairman of the Hepatitis Panel of the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Program, Deputy Director of the Commission on Viral Infections for the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board, among others.
For over 50 years, Saul Krugman was tireless in pursuit of his professional ideals. His remarkable steadfastness in purpose enabled him to continue his work in the face of severe criticism. Time has vindicated his actions. In addition to the Lasker Public Service Award, the National Academy of Sciences elected him as member in 1976.
These accolades were but two of many honors received over the course of his lengthy and distinguished career. Of those many honors, which began with membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Society, and continued until 1994, when the New York State Department of Health gave him its Immunization Award, two of the most significant bestowed on Krugman by his peers were the Howland award and the Bristol award.
Widely considered to be the most prestigious award in the field of pediatrics, the John Howland medal honors those whose research and teaching have contributed to the advancement of pediatrics and to the improvement of children's health. In 1981, members of the American Pediatric Society (APS) bestowed this, their highest honor, on Saul Krugman.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America also honored Krugman with a prestigious award. In 1976, the same year he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the IDSA named Krugman as the recipient of the Bristol award, in recognition of his thirty years of accomplishments and contributions to the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge about infectious diseases.
In April 1991, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, Saul Krugman was honored with a Festschrift. A Festschrift is a memorial volume, made up of articles contributed by pupils or associates and friends of a scientist or leader, published usually to honor some special occasion, such as a birthday or other anniversary.
In June 1941, with the United States heading for war, Saul Krugman entered the U.S. Army Air Corps as a flight surgeon. Captain Krugman served until 1946, and spent almost his entire military career in the South Pacific Theater. In one 13-month period, from August 1944 to September 1945, Krugman logged over 115,000 miles, primarily on air evacuation missions.
Krugman earned several honors during his military service, including a Bronze Battle Star for his Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon after the South Philippines campaign, and Bronze Battle Stars for the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon after the Luzon and New Guinea campaigns. His initiative and excellent work were recognized by his superiors, and earned him a verbal commendation from the Commanding General of the Pacific Division as well as praise from Colonel Robert Brua of the Pacific Division’s Air Transport Command Medical Corps.
Following his discharge from Active Duty in February 1946, Captain Krugman returned to New York City, where he took a position as an Intern at Willard Parker Hospital. Taking advantage of an opportunity to work with Drs. Robert Ward and L. Emmett Holt Jr., Dr. Krugman soon moved to Bellevue Hospital, where, although he began as an “externe” (an intern without a salary) he steadily moved up the ranks, becoming Director of the Pediatric Service in 1960. In addition, Krugman was a professor of Pediatrics at the New York University School of Medicine, where he served as Chairman of that department from 1960-1974. During this time, he began the research on infectious diseases that would come to be the dominant focus of his career, earning him international recognition, including the prestigious Lasker Public Service Award in 1983.
After a stroke in 1991, Dr. Krugman recuperated for a while in Florida, but continued to spend time in his lab in New York. Saul Krugman loved his work, and reluctantly retired from the NYU faculty in September 1995, at the age of 84. He moved to Florida with his wife Sylvia, and suffered a second stroke in early October. On October 26, 1995, Saul Krugman died of a cerebral thrombosis. At the time of his death, NYU Department of Pediatrics Chairman Dr. Wade Parks said of Krugman, "Saul Krugman has done more to eliminate pediatric infectious diseases than any other person ever." Krugman's obituary in the New York Times read, in part:
He was a distinguished teacher, scientist and physician, respected by his colleagues and peers, and beloved by students. A national figure with an international reputation, he was the ideal of the physician and scientist. He combined the vast knowledge of pediatrics with the great abilities of an innovative and imaginative investigator to the enormous benefit to patient care.
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The Saul Krugman Collection is contains materials related to honors and awards received by Krugman, biographical records, career-related documents and objects, and documents and realia from Krugman's military service during World War II. Items in these categories include, but are not limited to: photos, articles, certificates/licenses, medals, plaques, programs, and correspondence. Materials are open to researchers by appointment.
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