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History of WSPR


Early History of the Western Society for Pediatric Research
By: Forrest H. Adams, MD & Robert A. Aldrich, MD (former presidents of the society)

Before the early history of the Western Society for Pediatric Research (WSPR) is recounted it seems appropriate to make a few comments about the American Pediatric Society (APS) and the Society for Pediatric Research (SPR). These two academic societies acted as a template for the WSPR and many of us were members and active participants in their programs.

The formation of the APS in 1888 and the SPR in 1931 are well documented elsewhere1.For those interested in the whys and wherefores of scientific organizations, such recounting makes for interesting reading.

The founders of the APS “were mainly young or youngish men and nearly all of the founders taught in medical schools or hospital centers; all were practitioners, but very few limited their practices to pediatrics.”1 The original forty-three members of the APS included such great physicians as: William Osler, L. Emmet Holt, A. Jacobi, T.M. Rotch, W.D. Booker, H. Koplik, S.S. Adams, S. Baruch, V.C. Vaughn, etc.

The purpose of the APS was “to bring together men and women for the advancement of the study of children and their diseases, for the prevention of illness and promotion of health in childhood, for the promotion of pediatric education and research, and to honor those who, by their contribution to pediatrics, have aided in its advancement.” 1 The APS had annual meetings usually in the spring, and nearly always on the east coast. Both is membership and the attendance at its meeting remained small for the first 30-40 years, but after World War II both increased dramatically.

In the early years, “the APS membership was purposely limited, it seldom welcomed papers by non-members, and its meetings were not open to the public.”1 Invited guests were an exceptional event. Thus, as the pediatric academic community began to grow, particularly in the field of clinical investigation, the younger pediatric researchers pushed for and organization of their own; and they have been called “The Pediatric Young Turks.” The first meeting of this new group (of Turks) called the Eastern Society for Pediatric Research was held in March of 1929, Boston and twenty-five attended. At subsequent meetings; the name was changed to Society for Pediatric Research (SPR); the requirements for membership were that the person must be dependably launched on a career in pediatric research, membership was to include Canada and Mexico, and the applicant had to be younger than 45 years. The SPR also held most of its meetings on the East Coast, generally in conjunction with the APS. The SPR meetings were open to visitors and the visitors were allowed to comment on presentations. There policies of the SPR were eventually adopted by the APS.

Now for the early history of the Western Society for Pediatric Research (WSPR). A number of chairmen of pediatric departments in the western United States saw early in the 1950’s a need to promoted pediatric research as an important aspect of their respective pediatric programs. Since the APS and SPR meetings generally took place on the East Coast and travel to them was both expensive and time consuming, only a limited numbers of persons could afford to attend their meetings. A forum to present and discuss pediatric research performed in the west was needed. It was believed that such a meeting: would promote research in the western departments, would promote collaboration in research in the west; would allow each of the departments to put on a “open house” to show-off its facilities and programs and would strengthen the “drawing power” to attract talented people to the west and thus build up our departments. These above ideas were generated in 1953 in San Francisco hotel room by the following individuals:

John Anderson, MD- Stanford
Edward Shaw, MD- UCSF
John Adams, MD- UCLA
Robert Aldrich, MD- Oregon
Alan Hill, MD- Oregon
Forrest Adams, MD- UCLA
Carolyn Piel, MD- UCSF

The society was named the Western Society for Pediatric Research (WSPR). Its membership was to include all of those western United States and Canada who were engaged in clinical or basic research. There were to be no age restrictions on membership and the scientific meetings were to be open to those interested in its proceedings. The purpose of the WSPR was to that similar to the adopted by the APS as already mentioned.

An important element in the early meetings of the WSPR beginning in 1953 was the rotation of the meeting site from city to city to allow each of the departments to “show off” its facilities and programs. The year, location and host of the first 14 meetings is shown in table I. This rotation proved to be very successful and its objective were met. Table II shows the officers for the same period table III shows the members of the council.

Interest in the programs of the WSPR grew rapidly. By 1963, there were over 175 active members from most of the medical schools in the west. Beginning in 1957, Ross Laboratories offered to fund two awards: one in pediatric research; and one in pediatric education. The receipts of these early awards are shown in table IV. Specialty sessions in cardiology, hematology, genetics, metabolism, endocrinology, infectious diseases, neurology, and development were begun in 1959. The proved to be very successful, and resulted in a increase in interest in WSPR meetings.

1. Faber HK, McIntosh R. (1966) History of the American Pediatric Society. McGraw Hill Books.

Table I
Annual Scientific Meetings
Western Society for Pediatric Research

Year Location Host
1953 San Francisco, CA Stanford University
1954 Portland, OR University of Oregon
1955 Los Angeles, CA UCLA
1956 Salt Lake City, UT University of Utah
1957 San Francisco, CA UCSF
1958 Vancouver, BC University of British Columbia
1959 Los Angeles, CA UCLA
1960 Denver, CO University of Colorado
1961 San Francisco, CA UCSF
1962 Seattle, WA University of Washington
1963 Los Angeles, CA USC
1964 Salt Lake City, UT University of Utah
1965 Portland, OR University of Oregon
1966 Palo Alto, CA Stanford University

Table II
Society Officers
Western Society for Pediatric Research

Year President President Elect Secretary/Treasurer
1953 John Anderson Robert Aldrich Forrest Adams
1954 Robert Aldrich James Bosma Robert Alway
1955 James Bosma William Deamer Robert Alway
1956 William Deamer Frederick Moll Robert Alway
1957 Frederick Moll John Adams Vincent Kelley
1958 John Adams C. Henry Kempe Vincent Kelley
1959 C. Henry Kempe Carolyn Piel Vincent Kelley
1960 Carolyn Piel Vincent Kelley Denman Hammond
1961 Vincent Kelley Forrest Adams Denman Hammond
1962 Forrest Adams Eugune Lahey Denman Hammond
1963 Eugune Lahey Richard Olmsted Donough O’Brien
1964 Richard Olmsted Norman Kretchmer Donough O’Brien

Table III
Council Officers
Western Society for Pediatric Research

Years Members
1953-1954 Edward B. Shaw & Robert F. Chinnock
1953-1955 C. Henry Kempe & John F. McCreary
1953-1956 Vincent C. Kelley & Frederick C. Moll
1954-1957 Forrest Adams & Carolyn F. Piel
1955-1958 Philip Sturgeon & Allen J. Hill Jr
1956-1959 John H. Githens & Geoffrey Robinson
1957-1960 Moses Grossman & Arthur H. Parmelee Jr
1958-1961 Leslie Corsa & Ruth Gross
1959-1962 Thomas Shepard & Sydney Segal
1960-1961 Donald Pickering
1960-1963 Donough O’Brien & Patrick F. Bray
1961-1962 Robert Chinnock
1961-1964 Luigi Luzatti & Alan K. Done
1962-1965 J. Rodman Seely & Thomas K. Oliver
1963-1966 David Chadwick & Thomas K. Oliver
1964-1967 John F. Wilson & Leonard Linde

Table IV
Recipients of Ross Awards
Western Society for Pediatric Research

Pediatric Research Year Pediatric Education
Robert S. Ely 1957 John H. Githens
Donald E. Pickering 1958 ----------------------
Alan K Done 1959 Robert W. Deisher
Thomas A. Good 1960 ----------------------
Douglas C. Heiner 1961 ----------------------
Leonard M. Linde 1962 Henry K. Silver
Robert E. Greenburg 1963 Moses Grossman
Robert P. Igo 1964 ----------------------