Amos Uriah Christie

Amos U. Christie, nationally known medical educator and pediatrician, was born August 13, 1902, the only child of Edna Davis and Frederick Absolom Christie, in Eureka, California. His father, a lumberman, died when Christie was only four years old; his mother, a cook/dietitian at the Union Labor Hospital in Eureka, raised him.

Christie attended the University of Washington on a football scholarship and played twice in the Rose Bowl. In 1924 he entered the University of California Medical School in San Francisco and graduated June 1929. In medical school, Christie joined the Army ROTC, and on May 15, 1929, he was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the army and became a flight surgeon. He received residency training in pediatrics at Babies Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York. In 1934 he married Margaret Cunningham Clarke, a Broadway actress.

In 1936 he became a research associate and specialist in pediatrics to the Children's Bureau in Washington while also serving as director of the newborn service at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. In the fall of 1937 he studied at the Harvard School of Public Health. He returned to the University of California, where he advanced to the position of acting head of the Department of Pediatrics by 1940.

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, at the urging of the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Christie accepted the position as assistant director of medical and health services of the American Red Cross in Washington and headed up the development of a blood products program for the armed forces. Invited to become chairman of the pediatrics department at the University of California, he decided to remain with the Red Cross medical program. His research at Johns Hopkins on the immunology and other aspects of syphilitic infections, along with certain other studies, resulted in his election to the Society for Pediatric Research and in 1938 to the American Pediatric Society, the premier pediatric societies for clinical investigators.

On October 1, 1943, Christie began his duties as professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He immediately became an integral part of the University, developing a department of pediatrics that became a model for teaching and patient care. Nationally and internationally known as a pediatrician, teacher, academic leader, researcher, and humanitarian, Christie received many important medical honors including the prestigious John Howland Award, the highest award of the American Pediatric Society; the Jacobi Award of the Pediatric Section of the American Medical Association; and the John Philips Memorial Award of the American College of Physicians. In 1965 he was named the first recipient of the Branscomb Distinguished Professor at Vanderbilt; in 1971 he received the Chancellor's Cup at Vanderbilt. Christie took pride in his success as a developer of pediatric leaders. Out of his Vanderbilt department came the largest number of heads of departments of pediatrics and professors of pediatrics of any department in the United States.

Christie also received the Frank H. Luton Award for outstanding accomplishments in the field of mental health in Tennessee. For his contributions to the Nashville community, he was presented the second annual Edward Potter Jr. Leadership Award, conferred on those who have done the most to advance the socioeconomic conditions of the Nashville community. In 1983 he was named Physician of the Year in Tennessee by the Tennessee Medical Association.

Christie was chiefly responsible for defining the natural history of histoplasmosis, the most important fungus disease in this country. His publications on that topic, other diseases, and various aspects of pediatric medicine were numerous and wide-ranging. Christie died on 8 February 1986 at the age of eighty-four.

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  • Article Title Amos Uriah Christie
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  • Website Name Tennessee Encyclopedia
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  • Access Date July 20, 2024
  • Publisher Tennessee Historical Society
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2018