Academic journal article Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society

Francis D. Moore

Academic journal article Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society

Francis D. Moore

Article excerpt

17 AUGUST 1913 * 24 NOVEMBER 2001

I FIRST MET FRANCIS D. (FRANNY) MOORE in 1960, when he was forty-seven years old and at the peak of his legendary career at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. I was thirty-four years old and had completed my surgical training only a few months before at Northwestern University (Chicago). Our common interest was experimental liver transplantation, a procedure that we had been developing in dogs independently since 1958. By 1960, our experience with the operation exceeded that of the Boston investigators, but their knowledge of potentially applicable immunosuppression was far ahead of ours. Consequently, I approached him about coming to Boston to join forces. When he indicated that this would not be feasible, we went our separate ways. Moore ultimately abandoned his efforts to make liver transplantation a clinical service, but he always took pride in his original contributions. He remained keenly interested as progress was made, and frequently discussed the subject at meetings. His comments were viewed by some as pessimistic or frankly critical, but I always considered them to be incisive and helpful.

To me, Moore was an inspirational, albeit enigmatic, figure who always seemed both close at hand and far away. From my perspective, bits of the Moore puzzle took years to assemble. In fact, some of the missing pieces may not be filled in until the twenty-second century. Moore's extensive private correspondence and personal journals were donated to Harvard University, but with the proviso that they could not be made public for a hundred years. However, the broad outlines as well as numerous details of his life were published in his 1995 autobiography, A Miracle and a Privilege. Drawing on his fading but still prodigious memory (he was then eighty-two years old), Moore integrated the events of his family life with a half-century of surgical and medical advances. He drew particular attention to his role in fostering connections between surgery and basic science, and wanted to be known as a "scientist-surgeon."

One of the themes that run through his autobiography is most explicitly stated on pages 123-24: "The credit for priority in all of science should go to those who are the first, not only to perceive a discovery, but also to make public the message." Such a statement easily could be misconstrued. But Moore was merely explaining what his role had been in the medical revolution that took place during the twentieth century. He saw himself as more than a surgeon and more than a scientist. I agreed with his self-assessment. From my point of view, he was the consummate teacher-communicator. I found him to be learned but practical, stern but compassionate, remote but approachable, critical but constructive, and invariably stimulating. His genius as an educator required superior intelligence, a huge knowledge base, an instinct for stagecraft, an actor's ability, and the power to lead. These qualities were cultivated from an early age.

Born in 1913 in Evanston, Illinois, Moore was the youngest of three children (boy-[arrow right]girl[arrow right]boy) of well-to-do working parents who had deep New England roots. His father, characterized as "an achiever," was an industrial executive in the Chicago-based railroad industry. His mother was viewed by Franny as "the intellectual of the family." His early life was self-described as "serene and affluent." He remembered with particular nostalgia the time spent at a cattle ranch, purchased by his parents in Wyoming in 1929 and used as a honeymoon getaway after his marriage in 1935. However, these trips to the west were sporadic, and only added embroidery to the rich canvas of Franny's young life, which was centered from the age of five in the upscale Chicago suburb of Winnetka, Illinois. It is hard to imagine a more diversified upbringing than that described by Moore.

There were trips to New England, Europe, and Wyoming; a classical education (including Latin) at a private day school; music lessons; and extensive exposure to the theater, symphony, and other performing arts. …

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