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Biographical entry Moore, Francis Daniels (1913 - 2001)

Hon FRCS 1978; MD Harvard.

Evanston, Illinois, USA
4 November 2001
General surgeon


Francis Daniels Moore, or 'Frannie' as he was known to his many colleagues, residents and research workers, was a Professor of Surgery at Harvard. He was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1913. His early education was at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, Illinois. Receiving his medical training at Harvard Medical School, he graduated from Harvard College in 1935, and completed his residency programme at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1939. It was here that he was awarded a National Research Council fellowship to work at Huntington Memorial Hospital and began a lifelong interest in the study of physiology and clinical care in acute illness, injury and convalescence.

After brief stints as an attending surgeon at both the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, he was appointed surgeon-in-chief at the latter and Moseley Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School in 1948, a post he held for three decades.

His own personal interests were in the field of body composition and metabolism, and improving nutritional care of surgical patients. His book Metabolic care of the surgical patient (Philadelphia, Saunders, 1959) became a classic for many years. Using tracer elements he was able to estimate body fluid volume and the weight of dissolved salts. A prolific writer, he published several hundred scientific articles and six books.

Above all, he encouraged original work in others, be it in the research laboratory or in the clinical field. His support for organ transplantation led to the successful kidney donation and transplantation between identical twins by Joseph Murray at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. This was recognised when Murray received a Nobel prize in 1990. Successful transplants between fraternal and unrelated donors followed in the next decade, much of the work being performed by research workers from various parts of the world. The close proximity of the Children's Cancer Foundation or 'Jimmy's Fund' building headed by Sidney Farber, a leader in the field of cancer chemotherapy, was a bonus to the transplantation work. Moore had an early interest in liver transplantation in dogs, which he christened the 'Sputnik' programme after the Russian space endeavours. Thomas Starzl, the first to perform a successful human liver transplantation in 1967, admitted his own debt to the earlier work done by Francis Moore and his co-workers.

As a member of a number of surgical and scientific societies, he inevitably became President of many, including the Society of University Surgeons in 1958, the Boston Surgical Society in 1969, the American Surgical Association in 1971 and of the National Institutes of Health from 1956 to 1959. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1981 and the American Philosophical Society in 1998. His worldwide connections led to many honorary degrees from universities in Sweden, Paris, Denmark, Ireland and Edinburgh. He valued being made an honorary Fellow of the College and receiving the Lister medal.

He was a superb pianist, and his Christmas parties for staff were enlivened by both classical and jazz music on two pianos, relying on one of his research assistants or residents to accompany him. Sailing was an abiding interest. A phenomenal memory for those who had worked with him was something admired by all who were privileged to be associated with him.

He married Laura Benton Bartlett of Winnetka, Illinois, in 1935, by whom he had three daughters (Nancy, Sarah and Caroline) and two sons (Peter and Francis). After her death in 1988, he married Katharyn Saltonstall, who survives him, as do his family, 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Although dogged by increasing cardiac problems he published an autobiography in 1995 entitled A miracle and a privilege: recounting a half century of surgical advance (Washington DC, Joseph Henry Press), which in many ways underestimated his own contribution to some 50 years of surgical progress. He died on 4 November 2001.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The New York Times 28 November 2001, with portrait; information from Andrew G Jessiman and N A Green].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England