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Wayne Jason Atwell 1889 У1941. In Memoriam

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I n the minds of all anatomists the name of Wayne Jason
Atwell is associated with the hypophysis. His study of this
complex organ, to the knowledge of which he made many
important contributions, began when he was a graduate student with Huber at the University of Michigan, a quarter of a
century ago, and continued until terminated by death. So
recent and unexpected was this sad event that many of you
no doubt came to this meeting expecting to hear Atwell speak,
in his usual calm and convincing manner, about the hypophysis,
as listed in the program for this morning. The abstract for
this paper shows beautifully the thoroughness with which he
worked and why his words carried conviction.
Atwell's investigations were not limited to the hypophysis ;
other aspects of endocrinology also received attention, and his
outstanding publication in other fields is the masterly study
and excellent description of a 17-somite human embryo. AH
of his investigations were made by the method most of us have
to use-painstaking careful work month after month and year
after year. Atwell knew how t o evaluate the evidence thus
found, and his contributions will endure.
Wayne Atwell was born October 19th, 1889, at Fairfield,
Nebraska, attended public schools in that prairie State and
obtained his baccalaureate degree at Nebraska Wesleyan in
1911. After a year in medical school at hlichigan, limited
financial resources caused Atwell to seek an assistantship.
1 Presented at the fifty-seventh annual meeting of the Arneiican Association of
Anatomists, at Chicago, April 9, 1941.
During the 5 years that he was on the staff of G . Carl Hubcr’s
department, hc developed a permanent interest in anatomy,
and demonstrated his ability by earning the degrees of A.M.
and of Ph.D., in spite of a very heavy teaching load.
Before his twenty-ninth birthday, in the autumn of 1918,
Dr. Atwell became Professor of Anatomy at the University of
Buffalo, and had t o face problems that would have baffled
many older and more experienced anatomists. Emphatically
it can be said that Atwell made good in all aspects of the
difficult task. Ever since he took charge there has becn a
steady stream of substantial papers bearing the footnote
“Froni the Department of Anatomy, The University of
Buffalo”; and the majority of the papers have been by other
staff members, for whom Atwell provided the opportunity to
carry out their investigations. atwell was also a good teacher.
He knew how to impart knowledge and, by his own example,
showed his students how good work is done. His colleagues
in other departments, as well as his students, liked and respected him, and both groups soon found he could be relied
upon in all efforts to improve conditions for their work. I n
order to have a better understanding of the clinical problems
connected with his own investigations and to have a better
grasp of the broad problems of medical education, Atwell took
courses in the other departments and received the M.D. degree
at Buffalo in 1934. From being the youngest professor, Dr.
Atwell grew into one of the most influential and important
members of the faculty of his school.
Atwell’s second publication, on a simple method to convert
a photograph into a line drawing, well illustrates two characteristics that impressed all who were closely associated with
him ; namely, his ingenuity with apparatus and technical procedures, and his ability to adapt himself to the necessities of
a situation. He enjoyed working with his capable hands as
well as with his brain, and was never happier than when building something, whether a piece of laboratory equipment, a wax
model, furniture, or even a house. He liked outdoor life, preferred camping trips for vacations, and was proud of his
garden, which he took care of himself. Unlike many scientists
of the present day, Dr. Atwell maintained his boyhood interest
in religion and participated especially in the activities of the
children and young people of his church.
Atwell was elected to membership in the American Association of Anatomists at the St. Louis meeting in December, 1914,
and attended the majority of the meetings that have been held
since then. He was one of our most reliable and dependable
members, and at the time of his death was serving us as a
member of the Executive Committee and as an Associate
Editor of The American Journal of Anatomy. His death on
Ilarch 27th of this year, at the early age of 51 years, was a
serious loss not only for the University of Buffalo but also for
the American Association of Anatomists, and we join with
his bereaved faillily in grief and mourning.
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wayne, jason, memorial, 1889, atwell, у1941
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