Franz J. Ingelfinger, M.D. (1910-1980)

Franz J. Ingelfinger, born in Germany in 1910, began his connection to the Medical School in 1940, when he was invited by Dr. Chester Keefer to join the Evans Memorial Department of Clinical Research and Preventive Medicine. He was appointed Chief of Gastroenterology and held this post until 1967.
During the 27 years he spent at the Medical Center, his laboratory trained many highly-skilled “Fingerlings,” the name given to his trainees. Ingelfinger conducted studies on serotonin metabolism, intestinal absorption, and motor function of the esophagus and bowel. He is credited with significant clinical advances relating to the esophagus and small intestine and is often referred to as the father of modern gastroenterology, a scientific discipline that he developed.

Named the School’s first Conrad Wesselhoeft Professor of Medicine, he was Director of Medical Services at Boston City Hospital (a predecessor of Boston Medical Center) from 1961-1967, developing the medical services into a nationally-recognized teaching unit.

In 1967, Ingelfinger left the Medical Center to become editor of The New England Journal of Medicine and led the publication to national preeminence by printing controversial issues and sound scientific papers. He introduced what became known as the “Ingelfinger Rule,” which states that papers previously published elsewhere could not be printed in the Journal.

Retiring his editorship in 1976 due to failing health, he received the Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education, and later was named Distinguished Physician at the Rogers Memorial Veterans Administration Medical Center (Bedford, MA). He also received the George M. Kober Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the Association of American Physicians.