George Crile, MD, FACS, served on the governing board of the American College of Surgeons for 26 years. A founder of the College, Dr. Crile was one of 12 men appointed to form a committee on organization of the American College of Surgeons in 1912 by Dr. Edward Martin, President of the Clinical Congress of Surgeons of North America. He became the second College President, serving from 1916-17.
Dr. Crile was educated at the Wooster Medical School, now known as the Western Reserve University, in 1887. He studied in Europe and returned as a lecturer and demonstrator at the Wooster Medical School, becoming professor of surgery at Western Reserve and surgeon to the Lakeside Hospital (1911–24). He served in the Spanish American War as a brigade surgeon where he observed the relationship between shock, blood pressure, and death. He performed the first successful human-to-human blood transfusion in Cleveland in 1906. Following his appointment as a Brigadier General in the Medical Reserve Corps after World War I, Dr. Crile and his associates established the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio in 1921. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his service in devising new methods of treatment to prevent infection and surgical shock. During World War II, Dr. Crile was made honorary consultant to the Medical Department of the United States Navy.
A prolific writer, Dr. Crile served on the editorial board of the College’s journal Surgery Gynecology & Obstetrics from 1920-42, and pursued research interests in topics as diverse as anesthesia, surgical shock, surgery of the respiratory system, blood pressure in surgery, blood transfusion, origin and nature of the emotions, a mechanistic view of war and peace, the fallacy of the German state philosophy, the thyroid gland, and the surgical treatment of hypertension.
An active member of all the major surgical societies, Dr. Crile was a charter member of the Society of Clinical Surgery (SCS) in 1903 and became president of the American Surgical Association in 1923. During the SCS meeting in 1936, Dr. Crile—at age 74—performed celiac ganglionectomy for hypertensive disease.
In his retirement, Dr. Crile traveled widely and took up research in marine and terrestrial animal physiology.
For more information about Dr. George Crile and his role in the history of the American College of Surgeons, visit the ACS Archives. In addition, his papers are preserved at the Cleveland Clinic.