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American Medical Biographies/Isaacs, Charles Edward

Isaacs, Charles Edward (1811–1860)

Charles Edward Isaacs, anatomist, was born in Bedford, Westchester County, New York, June 24, 1811, the youngest of five children. His father was a merchant and a farmer, and the boy spent much time in the country in nature study. He went to the parish school kept by Samuel Holmes, and later took up medicine with Dr. Belcher, of New York, and had his first course of lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York. From here he went to Baltimore, entered the University of Maryland and graduated M. D. in 1832, at the age of twenty-one. President Jackson appointed him to accompany the Cherokee Indians in their removal beyond the Mississippi, and he traveled among the Indian tribes through the Southern States. In 1841 he entered the army, after being examined by the Army Board, coming out first among fifty candidates. He was sent to Governor's Island, and from there to Fort Kent, Maine, after two years he was ordered to Copper, Lake Superior, at the time when the discovery of copper caused excitement.

In 1845 he went to Fort Niagara, New York; in 1846 he resigned his commisssion and opened a private medical school in Greene Street, New York City, with W. H. Van Buren (q. v.). After several changes he accepted the appointment of demonstrator of anatomy in the College of Physicians and Surgeons; later, he was adjunct professor of anatomy in the University Medical College. Between the lecture terms he served as surgeon on European steamers and thus had the chance to visit hospitals in Europe. He moved to Brooklyn in 1857 and acquired a large practice.

Isaacs is best known at home and abroad by his monograph on the structure and functions of the kidney (Tr. New York Acad. of Med. vol i, part 9), and for his researches on the pleura. The paper on the kidney was commented on by Ch. Robin of Paris, as "the most valuable contribution to structural anatomy that has been made for years."

He died of pneumonia, associated with Bright's disease, on June 16, 1860, in Brooklyn.

Amer. Med. Times, N. Y., 1860, vol. i, 26–27.
Amer. Med. Month., N. Y., vol. xviii, 81–94.
North Amer. Med. Chir. Rev., Phila., 1860, vol. iv, 957.