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Emanuel Libman Papers 1885-1988
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Biography

Biographical Note

Dr. Emanuel Libman (1872-1946) was born in New York City. He received his medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and was associated with the Mount Sinai Hospital as a pathologist, and attending and consulting physician. Renowned as a clinician, he also made contributions in the fields of bacteriology and cardiology including work on blood cultures in bacterial infections.

His early work involved bacteriology, and he published research articles on meningococcic, streptococcal, paracolon and pyocyaneus infections. It was through this great interest in infections that he developed his expertise in blood culture work, and became the hallmark of his skill in clinical diagnosis. His most significant blood culture studies were made on patients with otitic infections, particularly lateral sinus thrombosis, and bacterial endocarditis. One such study led to his discovery of subacute bacterial endocarditis, previously undetectable in living humans and was almost always fatal. His work made it possible to detect and treat the disease, either with penicillin, chemotherapy, or surgery. In 1923-1924, Libman and Benjamin Sacks, isolated an undescribed type of endocarditis, which they described as atypical verrucous endocarditis (Libman-Sacks Disease; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus). Characterized by a facial rash and fever, dermatologists had earlier described the disease, but Libman and Sacks presented the first complete clinical picture, with and without skin lesions. Along with his clinical work, Libman also developed a pain sensitivity test.

Libman also devoted much of his time to teaching, charity work and other philanthropic pursuits. Among his many personal and professional friends were Sir William Osler, William Welch, and William Mayo.