Benjamin Sacks

Benjamin Sacks (1896 - 1971)

Benjamin Sacks (1896 – 1971) was an American physician, specialising in cardiac pathology. He later also worked in the film industry and as a historian.

Benjamin Sacks is eponymously associated with Libman–Sacks endocarditis (1924) along with Emanuel Libman (1872-1946), which they defined as typical verrucous valvular lesions in patients with SLE.

In the 1950s, Dr Sacks stopped practicing medicine due to deteriorating health, and moved to serve as a technical advisor in the film industry, working with actors such as Cary Grant, Bing Crosby, and Barry Fitzgerald.

He later pursued historical research, particularly the history of the Southwest (USA), as Arizona became a Territory following the Mexican-American War (1850-1875). His extensive research ‘The Sacks Collection of the American West’ is stored at the Arizona Historical Foundation in the Hayden Library on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University.


Biography

  • Born August 14th, 1896
  • 1922 – M.D., Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Maryland
  • Commenced medical career at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York
  • 1923 – Defined Libman–Sacks endocarditis with his mentor Emanuel Libman
  • 1950s – Medical advisor in the film and television industry. Worked with actors including Cary Grant, Bing Crosby, and Barry Fitzgerald. Known for his attention to detail, creating sets that were identical to a real hospital or doctor’s office.
  • 1959 – Appointment as the inaugural historical consultant to the American Historical Foundation
  • 1964 – Published his first book: “Be It Enacted: the Creation of the Territory of Arizona”, which received the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History
  • 1970 – Published his second book “Arizona’s Angry Man: United States Marshal Milton B. Duffield”
  • Died May 2, 1971

Medical Eponyms

Libman-Sacks endocarditis (1924)

Libman-Sacks endocarditis, characterized by sterile, verrucous valvular lesions (Libman-Sacks vegetations) with a predisposition for the mitral and aortic valves. Libman-Sacks endocarditis is regarded as both a cardiac manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus and, in recent years, of the antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). It is commonly complicated with embolic cerebrovascular disease.

Libman-Sacks vegetations: sterile fibrofibrinous vegetations that favor the left-sided heart valves and usually form on the ventricular surface of the mitral valve. A study of the echocardiographic findings of 342 consecutive patients with SLE found that 11% of these patients had Libman-Sacks vegetations


Fun Facts

In a letter of recommendation to the United States Surgeon General Hugh S. Cumming, Louis Gross (Director of Laboratories, Mount Sinai Hospital) wrote about Benjamin Sacks:

“Dr. Sacks is a man of striking personality. He is what is called a ‘natural born leader of men.’ He is an extraordinarily able teacher and is a constant stimulus to those about him. He is exceptionally well trained for investigative work”

When his medical career was cut short by ill health, Dr. Sacks turned his research talents and intellectual rigor to the history of the American West. In 1964, Sacks published Be It Enacted: the Creation of the Territory of Arizona. Described as a masterpiece of historical investigation and exposition for which he received the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History.


Major Publications


References


eponymictionary CTA

eponym

the person behind the name

Doctor in Australia. Keen interest in internal medicine, medical education, and medical history.

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