W. M. L. Coplin

William Michael Late Coplin


Born: 1 November 1864, Clarksburg, West Virginia

Died: 1928, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Academic Degrees

  • Undergrad: Mount Union College, Ohio and Thomas Jefferson University, 1883
  • MD: Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1886 (Started working as a senior with pathology specimens from the practice of The Professor of Surgery, Samuel W. Gross)

Academic Positions

  • 1886 - 1887 Assistant Demonstrator of Pathologic Anatomy, Jefferson Medical College
  • 1887 - 1892 Assistant Pathologist, Jefferson Medical College
  • 1892 - 1894 Demonstrator of Pathology, Jefferson Medical College; Curator of the Pathology Museum; Pathologist to the Philadelphia (General) Hospital
  • 1894 - 1895 Temporary Professor of Pathology, Jefferson Medical College
  • 1895 - 1896 Professor of Pathology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • 1896 - 1922 Professor of Pathology and Bacteriology, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Selected Career Highlights

  • First full-time pathologist at Jefferson.

  • Published Textbook of Practical Hygiene (1893), Lectures in Pathology (1894-5) and Manual of Pathology (five editions).

  • Special interest over the years was the Pathology Museum.

  • Invented a grooved glass jar (the Coplin Jar) which allowed slides to stand separated in a staining solution.

  • His career parallels the early growth of clinical laboratories in the United States. With the advance of microscopy and bacteriology and its application to clinical problems in the hospital, a need for hospital-based labs was generated. Dr. Coplin led that effort in Philadelphia.

  • Appointed as bacteriologist to the Pennsylvania State Board of Health and Director of the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Charities: organized the Municipal Hospital for Contagious Diseases.


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