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John Adriani Papers, 1925-1988
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Biographical Note

Dr. John Adriani (1907-1988) was a nationally known anesthesiologist who played a key role in anesthesiology's evolution into a full-blown medical specialty. A physician of many talents, he earned his reputation as a researcher, writer, teacher and drug consultant. Born to an Italian-American family on December 2, 1907 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he received his M.D. in 1934 from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed a one-year surgical internship at the French Hospital in New York City. Adriani then chose to join a small group of physicians who were attempting to professionalize the practice of anesthesia. After five years of training under the pioneer anesthesiologist Emery A. Rovenstine at Bellevue Hospital in New York, he was appointed Director of Anesthesiology at Charity Hospital in New Orleans in 1941 and served in many other top administrative capacities at the hospital through the 1960s.

Beginning in the 1950s, Adriani became prominent in many areas of drug development, evaluation, and regulation in the United States. Adriani published the now classic anesthesia texts The Pharmacology of Anesthetic Drugs and The Chemistry and Physics of Anesthesia; he developed the saddle block method of obstetric analgesia in 1947; he also carried out many research projects independently and for various pharmaceutical companies. He testified as an expert witness in hundreds of legal cases involving anesthesia. He held joint teaching appointments at the Tulane and Louisiana State University medical schools and taught the principles of anesthesiology to medical students, residents, nurses, dental students, and technicians for over four decades. He served on the American Board of Anesthesiology, on the American Medical Association's Council on Drugs (occupying its presidency from 1967 to 1971) and as a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on many different projects. He was an active member of the Academy of Anesthesiology, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and the Association of University Anesthetists. He was on the Editorial Board of Anesthesiology and the Medical Tribune, as well as an advisor to The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics. In August of 1969, he accepted an appointment as Director of the FDA's Bureau of Medicine, only to have the offer withdrawn under apparent pressure from the pharmaceutical industry which resented his well-publicized support for generic prescribing. Adriani retired from his hospital administrative responsibilities at Charity Hospital in 1975 but continued to teach, write, consult and testify in legal cases until his death in June of 1988.