Chester R. Burns (1937–2006) and the origins of the American Osler Society

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The American Osler Society (AOS) traces its origin to a 1970 symposium on Humanism in Medicine in Galveston, Texas. Although John P. McGovern (1921–2007) receives credit for conceiving the symposium and spearheading formation of the AOS, Chester Ray Burns (1937–2006) played a key role that has not been sufficiently recognized. Burns, the first American-born physician to receive a doctorate in the history of medicine from the Johns Hopkins University, did much and perhaps most of the organizational work and brought to the symposium a perspective on the crossroads between medicine and the humanities that proved essential to the nascent organization’s success. Burns went on to a productive career at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, became the 35th president of the AOS, and is among the relatively few physician-historians to have published scholarly articles in the history of medicine, medical biography, medical ethics, and philosophy as related to medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-50
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Medical Biography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • American Osler Society
  • Chester Burns
  • William Osler
  • medical humanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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