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Leo George Rigler Papers 1923-1981
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Biography

Biographical Note

Leo G. Rigler (1896-1979) was born in Minneapolis, MN., and received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Minnesota (1920). He was a leader in the development of academic radiology, and did as much as anyone to develop American diagnostic radiology into a clinically oriented consultative specialty and unique academic discipline.

It was during his internship at St. Louis City Hospital that he came under the influence of the pioneering radiologist Dr. Leroy Sante. He returned to the University of Minnesota as a teaching fellow in internal medicine and pathology at Minneapolis General Hospital, where the pathologist did both pathology and radiology. Rigler was given the responsibility for the fledgling field of roentgenology, to explore this new area of x-ray diagnosis. Specifically, his original insights derived from the viewing of chest x-rays advanced medical knowledge about the early history of lung cancer, as well as demonstrated dynamic changes in cardiovascular and pulmonary function. He became Chief of the Department of Radiology at the Minneapolis General Hospital (1927-57) and the University of Minnesota (1933-57). He molded the radiology department at Minnesota into a model for radiologic education. It is often said that the residency program there has produced more department chairs than any other in the country. Perhaps his greatest contribution was not his role in the development of his specialty, but his use of radiology to promote medical education in general.

In the two decades following World War II, Rigler was a member of several international groups working to bring up-to-date postgraduate teaching to countries affected by war. Working through the World Health Organization, he traveled to Israel, Iran and India, helping to establish clinical radiology teaching programs. He was also very influential in strengthening the base of radiology in human biological research and medical diagnosis in America, serving on the U.S. Senate's Committee of Consultants on Medical Research, the Research Committee of the National Cancer Institute, and the Committee on Academic Radiology of the National Academy of Sciences.

From 1957-1963 Dr. Rigler was Consultant in Radiology at the University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, while also serving as executive director of Cedars-Sinai Hospitals. In 1963, he became professor of radiology at UCLA and director of postgraduate training program in diagnostic radiology, where he taught until his death.

He was the author of over 250 articles and books, most notably Outline of Roentgen Diagnosis. For his lifetime contributions to medical education and science, UCLA's Leo G. Rigler Center for the Radiological Sciences was named for him. He was a fellow of the American College of Radiology, among others, and was awarded honorary fellowships in many of the world's radiological societies.