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One of Founders of the Medical School

Abram Sager
The Michigan Alumnus 452

WHEN, in 1850 the Medical School of the 
University of Michigan was organized and
 established, no other more fully earned the
 right to be called one of the fathers of the new depart
ment, along with Dr. Zina Pitcher, one of the Regents 
who was also a leader in the medical profession of the 
State, than Professor Abram Sager, who was in charge
 of the instruction in botany and zoology. 

One of the Fathers of the Medical School

Abram Sager, A.M., M.D., was one of those patient, 
skillful and high-minded scholars who in the twilight
 of modern science, almost unaided by libraries, appara
tus, and laboratories, but constant in their search for 
the facts of nature, built up stone by stone the edifice 
that is our biology, our medicine, our physical science. 
He was born at Bethlehem, New York, December 22, 
1810. In 1831 he was graduated from Renssalaer
 Polytechnic Institute, where, apparently, from Profes
sors Torrey and Eaton he gained a thorough training 
in botany and zoology and a life-long interest in them. 
In 1835 he received his medical degree at Castleton, Vermont, and entered general practice—and he was 
a skillful physician and surgeon. In 1837-39, as Zoolo
gist, he assisted Douglas Houghton in the survey of
 the state: and then in 1842 he came to the University
 as professor of botany and zoology. Thereafter his 
titles were Professor of Obstetrics, Diseases of Women
 and Children, and Professor of Botany and Zoology, 
 1850-54; of Obstetrics. Physiology, Botany and
 Zoology, 1854-55; of Obstetrics and Physiology 
1855-60; of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and 
Children, 1860-75. His herbarium and the zoological
 specimens collected and prepared by him were the 
foundations of the University herbarium and the Museum of Zoology. 

Biologist and Physician

He was a tireless worker (he had to be. just to carry 
all these titles; and he was an active practitioner, much
 sought as a consultant, besides), an omnivorous reader, 
 and the author of many papers on medical and biological
 subjects. Epoch-making discoveries did not fall to his
 lot, but his scientific work was accurate, original and
of real value. He was modest and retiring, but firm
 and courageous against charlatanry and anything which
 outraged his sense of the integrity of his profession. 
 He was a real scientist, a broadly grounded scholar, 
 and a quietly persistent enthusiast. An early medical 
graduate once, speaking of Dr. Sager's lectures, mentioned the fact that he dwelt in detail upon observation 
which he and others had made on the segmentation of 
frog's eggs, concluding. "At that time some of us did
 not see what that had to do with obstetrics and gyn
ecology, but let me say, those lectures and many others 
which he delivered gave us the only idea many of us 
had of what was going on in the animal world around
 us." Medical educators today recognize the necessity 
of such instruction as Dr. Sager's instincts compelled
 him to impart eighty years ago. He died August 6, 1877, and let his name be remembered forever at Michigan as one of its great scientists and a sound builder
 of educational foundations.