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Donald Frederick Proctor

Donald Frederick Proctor


Proctor was born in Red Bank, New Jersey. In trying to decide between a career in medicine or as an opera singer, he worked towards his A.B. from The Johns Hopkins University, graduating in 1933, while simultaneously studying voice at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School in New York. He then earned his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1937 and completed his residency in otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins.

In 1940, Proctor became active in the field of bronchoscopy, conducting research on respiratory airflow as well as developing a large clinical practice. He joined the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine faculty in 1946 as associate professor of otolaryngology, then left in 1950 to study respiratory physiology at the University of Rochester. In 1951, he returned to Johns Hopkins and was appointed professor of anesthesiology at the school of medicine, with the goal of establishing an independent department of anesthesiology.

Although he held a fellowship under Robert D. Dripps at the University of Pennsylvania, he did not complete a full residency in anesthesiology and was denied certification by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Further, the department of surgery at Johns Hopkins was not committed to building an independent department of anesthesiology.

Lacking board certification and institutional support, in 1955 Proctor returned to private practice and research in otolaryngology. He retained faculty appointments at Johns Hopkins as assistant professor of physiology and assistant professor of laryngology and otology.

Proctor rejoined the full-time faculty in 1962 as the director of the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s bronchoscopic clinic. In 1964, he embarked on an National Institute of Health-funded program in air hygiene at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, and in 1965, he was appointed professor in environmental health sciences. In 1973, he was appointed professor of laryngology and otology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and professor of anesthesiology in 1977. Proctor continued an active research, clinical and teaching career until achieving emeritus rank in 1985.

Proctor published extensively on his research. His final book Breathing, Speech, and Sound united his interest in singing and medicine.

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