10 Notable Jefferson Alumni of the Past

Samuel D. Gross Portrait

Samuel D. Gross

JMC Class of 1828

Undoubtedly the most venerated figure in Jefferson’s history, Samuel D. Gross was pre-eminent in the medical profession. In addition to being the finest surgeon of his time, he was also a distinguished educator, author of fourteen highly influential books and over 1,200 articles, all while he maintained a thriving medical practice. Gross is also the central figure depicted in Thomas Eakins’ masterpiece " The Gross Clinic."

Lithotomy knife
Lithotomy knife. (Samuel D. Gross Collection, MS 4)

Gross received his MD from Jefferson Medical College in 1828 and practiced in Philadelphia from 1828 until his move in 1830 to Easton Ohio. Before he returned to Jefferson Medical College as Professor of Surgery in 1856, Gross taught at the Medical College of Ohio (later known as the Medical Dept. of Cincinnati College) from 1833 to 1840; and at Louisville Medical Institute (later the University of Louisville) from 1840 to 1856.

In addition to teaching, Gross enjoyed a wide reputation for his numerous writings including his System of Surgery (1859). Translated into several different languages, it was considered by many to be the greatest surgical treatise of its time. Between 1859 and 1882, the work went through six American editions. Another publication of Gross, his Manual of Military Surgery (1861), became a standard field manual for Civil War surgeons -- including the Confederate Army for whom it was pirated and reprinted.

Dedication from Gross's Manual of Military Surgery, 1862
Dedication from Samuel D. Gross, Manual of Military Surgery, Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1862.

A founder of the American Medical Association, Gross was also the founder and first president of the American Surgical Association, and the founder and first president of the Alumni Association of Jefferson Medical College. In addition, Gross was the first alumnus to be appointed to a professorship at Jefferson.

After serving on Jefferson’s faculty for twenty-five years, he resigned in March 1882. Gross retained the title of Emeritus Professor of Surgery until his death on 6 May 1884 in Philadelphia.