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Dr Marion Sulzberger

Dr Marion Sulzberger Royal Society of Medicine Honorary Fellowship

19 October 1982

Introduction by Dr. Joe Pegum:

Mr. President, my Lord, Ladies and Gentleman, I have the honour to present Dr. Marion Sulzberger. Dr. Sulzberger was born under one star but to another bound. He was born in the New World and studied medicine in the old. This he did in Geneva and here he attracted the attention of the famous great Bruno Bloch and joined his Clinic in 1926. Bloch was the discoverer of the dopa reaction and he was also interested in all sorts of things which were in many ways modern and immunological. He extracted the allergen of the primula primin and he set to work unravelling the mysteries of the carcinogens in tar. From Zurich, Dr. Sulzberger went to Breslau to the Clinic of Joseph Jadassohn and he was the inventor of the patch-test. Here, working with Fry, Dr. Sulzberger demonstrated the phenomenon of specific lasting refractoriness to sensitization. This discovery places him among the fathers of immunology and indeed, his phenomenon was later to be called immune tolerance by Medawar and Burnett.

Returning to New York he carried the fire kindled in the Old World back to the New. He became the first McKee Professor of Dermatology. He wrote his seminal work 'Dermatological Allergy'. He played an important part in the founding of the Society for Investigative Dermatology and was the Editor of its Journal for the first 10 years of its life. Between 1932 and 1955 he was Editor of the Year Book of Dermatology. At the New York Skin and Cancer Unit he was able to assist refugees from Hitler's Germany. These included famous men such as Rudolph Baer, Stefan Epstein, Max Jessner and Herrman Pinkus and they enriched the dermatological fabric of America. With Victor Witten, Dr. Sulzberger was the first to use topical steroids and together they invented the invaluable technique of occlusion. In World War II he was the Senior Dermatologist to the United States Navy and later on he was also to be a very important Adviser to the United States Army. And on these occasions he contributed greatly to our knowledge of chronic fungal infections and of the sweat retention syndrome.

He was a founder Member of the American Academy of Dermatology. No less than eighteen of his pupils have occupied Chairs of Dermatology in the United States and in the World generally. He has received Honours and Distinctions too numerous to enumerate. He has contributed greatly to a period of revolutionary advance in Science and Medicine. Dr. Sulzberger says that he was born under a lucky star. It's a lucky star for us also. Sir, I present Dr. Sulzberger.

Reply from Dr. Sulzberger:

Sir James, friends, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr. Pegum I thank you for this hyperbolic introduction. I also want to thank Dr. Sarkany and Dr. Martin Black for having the courage to put forth my name. I must confess when I received from Mr. Hewitt notice of this great Honour my gratitude was exceeded only by my amazement. I knew full well that there were many throughout the World, many Dermatologists, throughout the World, in my own Country, here and indeed in this very Hall, more worthy of the Honour than I but I must also confess that I was especially pleased that this Honour should be given to me in England. My Father was a Businessman with relations in many Countries of the World, throughout the World, and in my youth I often beard him say he would rather have the word of an Englishman to an agreement than the verbalized signature of a citizen from many another Country and I think I have a similar affection, I might use the word in two senses, I have an affection which I might call X-linked hereditary anglophilia.

Since I realise my unworthiness I would like to accept this great Honour in the name of my Specialty, Dermatology, because I think it is a token of very significant advances which that Specialty has made in contributing fundamental knowledge to Medicine and Science particularly in the recent decades. I would also like to accept this Honour in the name of the Masters who taught me and in my many colleagues here abroad and in my own Country and particularly from my students from whom I learned so much. And I must not forget the fine women who have borne with my vagaries for so many years, and supported me and particularly my wife Bobbie who is here tonight. In the name of all of these I accept this very great honour and I promise you that I shall try to be worthy of it.

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