Averill A. Liebow

Averill A. Liebow


Born: 31 March 1911, Austria

Died: 31 May, 1978, La Jolla, California

Academic Degrees

  • BS: College of the City of New York 1931
  • MD: Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 1935

Academic Positions

  • 1935 - 1968 Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor then John Slade Ely Professor of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 1968 - 1975 Professor and Chair, Department of Pathology, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, La Jolla, California; (Founded Department of Pathology)


  • Yale University School of Medicine and New Haven Hospital

Selected Career Highlights

  • Considered one of the two or three world's experts in Pulmonary Pathology (and generally recognized as the premier pulmonary pathologist in the U.S.).

  • During his time at the Yale Unit in the South Pacific, he compiled elegant studies of cutaneous diphtheria that made specific treatment possible for a form of "jungle rot" (a major problem in the South Pacific war theatre).

  • While at Yale, developed the famous "organ recital" (which went hours with even just one case, and usually the entire morning with two cases).

  • Memorized every medical student's name from pictures taken prior to the first class, and would address students by name on first sight. He knew where their homes were, and then names of their families. (He had zero tolerance for poor presentations, and would check off every "uh" a resident uttered while searching for a word, and charged him five cents per "uh". He demanded that house officers work as hard as he, which some residents found difficult.)

  • Published 145 papers on a wide-variety of topics including: BCG vaccinations, parasitic and infectious diseases, topical ulcers (all before 1946), and thereafter, on the preparation of casts of pulmonary vessels in patients with pulmonary stenosis and bronchiectasis (much of his work dealt with the abnormalities of the pulmonary circulation both physiologic and morphologic).

  • He started with W. Kendall of Hartford Hospital the first cytopathology study in Connecticut and published in 1948 a study of the accuracy of cytologic diagnosis of sputum and bronchial secretions, controlled by surgical specimens. Also published on interstitial pneumonitis including DIP, alveolar proteinosis (naming it), infections of the lungs, a wide variety of pulmonary tumors, congenital pulmonary defects, the aging lung, vascular flow in other organs (kidney, spleen, cardiac), Wegener's granulomatosis, the recognition of Kultschitzky type cells in bronchioles (with Gmelich and Bensch), the eosinophilic pneumonias, pulmonary veno-occlusive disease, "sugar tumors" of the lung (with Castleman), lymphomatoid granulomatosis, bronchiolitis obliterans, pulmonary lymphangiomyomatosis, and the untoward effects of exogenous inhalants on the lung. His last paper was with A.L. Katzenstein and C.M. Bloor on Diffuse Alveolar Damage: role of oxygen, shock and related factors.

  • Colleagues/co-authors were G.N. Papanicolaou, F. Carone, B. Castleman, K. Bensch, C.M. Bloor, A.C. Aperia, J.T. Gmelich, P.J. Friedman, and others.

  • Students were: Charles Carrington, Anna Louise Katzenstein, and others.

  • Wrote a major book called: "Encounter with Disaster: Medical Diary of Hiroshima" (1945). He and S. Oughterson and Shields Warren, as part of the United States Atomic Bomb Causality Commission, were sent immediately (September 1945) to survey Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan after the bombing and surrender of Japan to study the devastation and the subsequent irradiation sickness.

  • Wrote the AFIP's Atlas of Tumor Pathology's series: Tumors of the Lower Respiratory Tract (1954), "Thoracic Surgery and Related Pathology" (with G.E. Lindskog, 1953), the WHO "Histological Typing of Lung Tumors" (1967), "The Lung" (IAP Monograph, 1968).

  • Established the large and renowned Averill Liebow Collection (of pulmonary pathology) and instituted a large and well-known annual course in pulmonary pathology.

  • While giving a course in pulmonary pathology at University of California San Diego suffered a stroke and subsequently died.


view more