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Abraham Flexner

Abraham Flexner 2010 marked the centennial celebration of the Flexner Report, which ultimately led to safer practice of medicine in the United States. The force behind it? A native Louisvillian, who’s the subject of this week’s Et Cetera.

Abraham Flexner was born in Louisville, on Nov. 13, 1866. He was one of nine children born to immigrants Morris and Esther Flexner. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Flexner founded a private school in Louisville in 1890 to test his ideas about education – which were based on the rigors of the German university system.

According to "Britannica Concise Encyclopedia", Flexner taught high school for nearly 20 years - including four years at Louisville Male High School, his alma mater.

As an outspoken critic of American higher education, Abraham Flexner was chosen to prepare a report on the state of medical education in North America. The project was spearheaded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Abraham Flexner The two-year study resulted in a report: "Medical Education in the United States and Canada", commonly called the Flexner Report. This immediately led to radical changes in the way doctors were trained in the United States, which helped to save lives. The year was 1910.

Among Flexner’s other accomplishments:

  • Served as secretary of the Rockefeller Foundation
  • Founded the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University
  • Named among the hundred most important Americans of the 20th Century by Life Magazine.

Flexner died in 1959. Abraham Flexner Way, located in downtown’s hospital district, honors this education reformer and incredible Louisvillian.

Abraham Flexner The Flexner Report Centennial Symposium was hosted by Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville School of Medicine on May 4, 2010. Among the speakers was Charles W. Flexner, professor of medicine and pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and great nephew of Abraham Flexner.

And are a few more interesting facts on Abraham Flexner. According to the Institute for Advanced Study, in 1898 Flexner married aspiring playwright Anne Crawford, who found financial success on Broadway with the production of her play "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch". The book upon which the play was based was written by Louisvillian Alice Hegan Rice. The proceeds of the play helped pay for Flexner's master's degree in psychology.

Program 507
In this "Louisville Life", sculptor Guy Tedesco, a visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum and a major milestone in medicine with Louisville roots. Plus, the Reverend Al Shands talks about receiving a prestigious arts award.

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