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The Simpson Memorial Institute was presented to the University of Michigan by Mrs. Christine McDonald Simpson, of Detroit, as a memorial to her husband, Thomas Henry Simpson, who died of pernicious anemia in 1923. Mr. Simpson was born in McConnelsville, Ohio, and as a young man entered the business of manufacturing malleable iron in Detroit, in which city he resided until his death. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Simpson decided to erect and endow an institution for the study and care of patients with pernicious anemia and to present this to the University of Michigan.

Mrs. Simpson offered $150,000 for a building and $250,000 as an endowment. It was stipulated that the activities of the Institute should be devoted, primarily, "to the study of pernicious anemia, the alleviation of the suffering of persons afflicted with that disease, and the discovery of a cure for the same." The Regents promptly accepted the offer.

Albert Kahn, the architect selected by Mrs. Simpson, completed the plans by May 22, 1925, and on May 28 the contract was let to the firm of Henry L. Vanderhorst, of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ground was broken for the building by Mrs. Simpson on June 3, 1925, and thereafter construction progressed at a rapid rate.

By January 1926, the Institute building was nearing completion, and as the Board of Regents was not yet ready to select a permanent director and staff, on June 21 it appointed Dr. James D. Bruce, who then occupied the position of Director of the Department of Internal Medicine, as Acting Director of the Institute. At the same time a permanent advisory committee was appointed, to confer and advise concerning the research work of the organization. The personnel of this committee was as follows: Dr. Hugh Cabot, Dean of the Medical School; Dr. James D. Bruce, Director of the Department of Internal Medicine; Dr. Aldred S. Warthin, Professor of Pathology; Dr. Frederick G. Novy, Professor of Bacteriology; Dr. Howard B. Lewis, Professor of Physiological Chemistry; and Dr. Preston M. Hickey, Professor of Roentgenology.

By June 29, 1926, the building was completed. The committee of the faculty appointed Cyrus Cressey Sturgis (Washington '13, M.D. Johns Hopkins '17) as Director on January 6, 1927. He reported for duty on July 15 of the same year. Raphael Isaacs (Cincinnati '11, A.M. ibid. '12, M.D. ibid. '18), of Harvard University, was appointed Assistant Director and also Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Medical School, in February, 1927, and was asked to report for duty on April 1.

Dr. Isaacs, a native of Cincinnati, was thirty-five years of age at the time of his appointment. He had had a broad training in the field of hematology and was already well known for his contributions to the literature bearing on the subject. He had taught various subjects, including anatomy, physiology, medicine, and clinical pathology. He had served as intern, resident physician, and chief resident physician at the Cincinnati General Hospital; then, after one year as instructor in medicine at the University of Cincinnati, and another as voluntary graduate assistant in medicine at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston, he had been appointed instructor in medicine and assistant physician at the Collis P. Huntington Memorial Hospital of Harvard University. During his last year in Boston, 1926-27, he was consulting hematologist at the Beth Israel Hospital and assistant physician at the Boston Dispensary. He entered the Department of Internal Medicine as Assistant Professor in 1927, and was promoted to an associate professorship in 1930.

Dr. Isaacs was the first member of the staff to arrive in Ann Arbor. Much of the credit for the efficiency of the Institute rightfully belongs to his skill and judgment in formulating the early plans for its organization.

In the first thirteen years of the Institute's existence, approximately one thousand patients with pernicious anemia were seen, as well as many patients with other types of anemia. A large majority of these patients were observed over a period of one to thirteen years, and an excellent opportunity was afforded to appraise the effects of various types of treatment. In 1929 the investigators at the Institute introduced a new and effective form of treatment for the disease, which is derived from hog stomach (ventriculin). It is now widely used.

The knowledge, which has been accumulated by various investigators has been made available to the medical profession by means of numerous publications which have appeared in various medical journals. Each member of the staff has collaborated in the teaching of undergraduate and graduate students.

Cyrus C. Sturgis


Abbot, Waldo. "The Simpson Memorial Institute Dedicated."Mich. Alum., 33 (1927): 385.

Abbot, Waldo. "Thomas Henry Simpson, University Benefactor."Mich. Alum., 33 (1927): 725-26.

Abbot, Waldo. "The Work of the Simpson Institute for University."Mich. Alum., 34 (1927): 139-42.

Cabot, Hugh, , and Frank E. Robbins. "Gift Marks Epoch in Medical Education."Mich. Alum., 31 (1925): 195-96.

Catalogue and Register, Univ. Mich., 1925-27.

Ind, Allison. "Institute Scientists Scan Triumph."Mich. Alum., 38 (1932): 307.

[News notes.]Mich. Alum., 31 (1924): 180; 33 (1927): 576; 34 (1927): 72; 36 (1929): 168; Mich. Daily, Oct. 16 and Nov. 5, 1938.

"Plans Well Under Way for Construction of Simpson Memorial Hospital."Mich. Alum., 31 (1925): 492.

President's Report, 1924-40.

Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1923-40.

The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey, Wilfred B. Shaw, editor, Pages 998-1000

History of the University of Michigan

The Thomas Henry Simpson

Memorial Institute for Medical Research