Murray R. Abell

Murray Richardson (Gus) Abell


Born: 14 October 1920, Aylmer, Ontario, Canada

Died: April 2003, Sun City Center, Florida

Academic Degrees

  • Aylmer Collegiate Institute 1934-1939
  • MD: University of Western Ontario 1944
  • PhD: University of Western Ontario 1951

Academic Positions

  • 1952 - 1979 Instructor in Pathology, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, then full Professor of Pathology, The University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • 1980 Professor Emeritus, The University of Michigan Medical School


  • St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto
  • Westminster Hospital, London, Canada
  • University of Western Ontario, London, Canada

Selected Career Highlights

  • Appointed the First Executive Director, The American Board of Pathology (1978-1992); Trustee 1970-1978. As Executive Director he was responsible for expanding/redefining Board operations, identifying new subspecialty areas and developing credentialing processes. He was responsible for converting the Board examinations system into a rigorous and highly professional activity with the development of a series of test committees whose tasks are to provide the most updated and relevant examination questions. One of Gus's conditions for taking the job was that the offices of the ABP be located in Tampa, a place he had visited many times and was very fond of.

  • President of the Michigan Society of Pathologists (1968).

  • Series Editor, IAP Monographs (1973-1978).

  • Chairman, USCAP Education Committee (19972-1975, 1977) and is "responsible for its basic organization as we know it today... and establishing it as the key committee in our organization" (Nate Kaufman).

  • Chairman of the Residency Review Committee for Pathology (of the AMA) and Chair of Committees for the American Board of Medical Specialties.

  • Certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (and the ABP) in Anatomic Pathology and Dermatopathology.

  • Author/Co-author/Editor of well over 100 scholarly articles and more than 10 books.

  • Recipient of a great many prestigious awards including: the FK Mostofi (USCAP); the Leadership Award from the American Cancer Society; the Distinguished Service Award from the ASCP/CAP and the APC; the President's Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Oral Pathology; the Special Award from the ABMS. He has been further honored by being named a Life Trustee and Executive Vice President Emeritus by the ABP.

  • During his 27 years at the University of Michigan he gained a well-deserved regional, national and international reputation as a superb academic surgical pathologist and consultant and mentor, with special interests in many organ systems (not only gynecologic pathology but he also had strong interests in dermatopathology, orthopedic pathology, hepatic and GU and mediastinal, retroperitoneal soft tissue lesions, and lesions of the peripheral nervous system.)

  • He identified and characterized intraepithelial carcinoma of simplex type, progestogeninduced adenomatous hyperplasia of the cervix, massive edema of the ovary, iatrogenic fetal implants in the uterus and papillary adenofibroma of the cervix.

  • His other landmark articles included: ovarian and testicular tumors in children and adolescents, cervical adenocarcinoma, extragonadal primary germ cell tumors, sarcomas and carcinosarcomas of the female genital and male genitorurinary tracts, ectopic urethral prostatic tissue, and vaginal adenosis (prior to the DES-era).

  • While he was one of the most accomplished academic surgical and gynecological pathologists of his generation, as well as a leader in organizational pathology, Gus preferred the simple title of pathologist.

  • Recipient of the University of Michigan Medical Center Alumni Society Distinguished Service Award (1996).

  • Served University of Michigan in many ways including Chair of the Endowment Campaign Committee to establish a chair in memory of Dr. A. James French, as well as continued strong support in the development of ongoing activities for the A. James French Society of Pathologists which resulted in the naming of the Annual House Award of the French Society, the M.R. Abell House Office Award.

  • The University of Michigan established the M.R. Abell Endowed Professorship of Surgical Pathology in his honor.

  • A dedicated teacher, mentor (to all) and a superb administrator. He has had a great many proteges including Drs. Henry Appelman and William Hart.

  • An avid sports fan, especially when it came to his revered Wolverines.

  • Gus initially wanted to become an archeologist, but when he arrived in college, the admissions people insisted that he enroll in medicine. He finally relented.

  • His nickname "Gus" comes from his days as a boy spending time with his grandfather Gustin in Ontario, Canada. His grandfather was known as Gus, and Murray Abell became known as "Little Gus". The "little" part was dropped as he grew older.

  • A participant in Worldwide Medical Missionaries, he spent part of his last few years donating his services as a pathologist at the hospital in Kijabe, Kenya in Africa. He was an active collector of African stone carvings and batiks.


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