Frederick A. Coller, MD, FACS, 29th President of the American College of Surgeons (1949-50), and consultant to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was born, raised and received his early education in Brookings, SD. His father, Granville James Coller, MD graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1880 and helped establish the South Dakota State College. Frederick entered Harvard Medical School with a master of science degree in 1908, the year that Harvard raised its entrance requirements, and was able to attend classes with outstanding teachers.
Dr. Coller graduated cum laude from Harvard in 1912 and was appointed intern on the west surgical service at Massachusetts General Hospital in July. The Hospital instituted a surgical residency and Dr. Coller was the first resident appointed there by unanimous choice of all attending surgeons. Three years later he went to France, under the leadership of Dr. Harvey Cushing, to take over one of the surgical services of the American Ambulance Service. He later achieved the rank of Major in the US Armed Forces in World War I, and in World War II was a consultant to the military for surgical societies.
After his military service ended, he became a professor of surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School in 1920, where he did research on water balance. Publications resulting from his research became the incentive for extensive study in electrolytes and the treatment of traumatic shock. By 1947, Coller had achieved such prominence in the world of surgery and admiration from his students that they created the Frederick A. Coller Surgical Society in his honor. The society has about 200 members, many of them Professors and Chiefs of Surgery throughout this country and world.
Dr. Coller was a leader in many surgical societies, including his presidency of the American Surgical Association. His career with the American College of Surgeons (ACS) began in 1922 when he first became a Fellow, then Governor, Regent, and ACS President. One of his lesser-known contributions was as an artist, and he contributed a watercolor to the College as part of the Surgeons Art Project. For more information on Dr. Frederick Coller’s contributions to the American College of Surgeons, and the Surgeons’ Art Project, contact the ACS Archivist.
Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons, May-June 1965,50,3: 129
Ann. Surg Dec. 1961, 154: 18-24,
JAMA, Dec.14, 1964, 190, 11: 38