The Department of Radiology & Radiological Sciences

HERBERT C. FRANCIS, M.D. (Chairman 1954 - 1961)

Dr. Herbert C. Francis graduated from Yale Medical School in 1931 and was a member of the faculty there from 1933 to 1936 with the rank of “assistant.” joined the radiology faculty at Vanderbilt in 1937 as assistant professor of radiology. 

Dr. Kampmeier worked with Dr. Francis for many years and reports: “Herb followed the old-fashioned pattern – not infrequently we met in the OR or at the autopsy table to observe what he had seen and I had felt. Often came the call to inquire what auscultation had shown in a given patient." 

The training of residents in radiology was organized and directed by Dr. Francis. He was an excellent teacher.  But to sloppy surgical or medical house staff, he showed no mercy. Many times he was heard on the telephone or face-to-face dressing down an intern or resident who had sent a requisition minus clinical data. According to Dr. Kampmeier, he recalls Francis stating:  “I am not a technician, I am a consultant, and you come down here and fill out the requisition properly before I give an answer.” Obviously this was a teaching ploy. Sloppy thinking, superficial examinations, the use of X-rays as a shortcut to bypass a history or physical examination were anathemas to Dr. Francis. He was a good selection as a faculty member for the department of radiology.
Dr. Ben Mayes recalls, “In early 1937, the radiology department moved from the tiny ground floor court to a new department on the second floor. The new department was designed by Dr. Francis and, although quite small by today’s standards, it was ample for 1937. Dr. Francis was also a fine gentleman, well liked and respected by both staff and students.”
Herb’s brother, Tommy Francis was a famous epidemiologist who led the Polio Vaccine trials, and who laid the foundation with Felix Moore for the design of the long term epidemiology study at ABCC. The study is still ongoing evaluating  health effects of radiations from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


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