Journal Article

A Legacy in 20th-Century Medicine: Robert Allan Phillips and the Taming of Cholera

Stephen J. Savarino

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 35, issue 6, pages 713-720
Published in print September 2002 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online September 2002 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/342195
A Legacy in 20th-Century Medicine: Robert Allan Phillips and the Taming of Cholera

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The legacy of Captain Robert Allan Phillips (1906–1976) was to establish effective, evidence-based rehydration methods for the treatment of cholera. As a Navy Lieutenant at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (New York, New York) during World War II, Phillips developed a field method for the rapid assessment of fluid loss in wounded servicemen. After the war, he championed the establishment of United States Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU)-3 (Cairo; 1946) and NAMRU-2 (Taipei; 1955), serving at the helm of both units. Phillips embarked on cholera studies during the 1947 Egyptian cholera epidemic and brought them to maturity at NAMRU-2 (1958–1965), elucidating the pathophysiologic derangements induced by cholera and developing highly efficacious methods of intravenous rehydration. His conception of a simpler cholera treatment was realized in the late 1960s with the development of glucose-based oral rehydration therapy, a monumental breakthrough to which many other investigators made vital contributions. Today, these simple advances have been integrated into everyday medical practice across the globe, saving millions of lives annually.

Journal Article.  4960 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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