Newell Clark Gilbert (1880-1953) received his medical degree from Northwestern University in 1907. Following his internship at St. Luke’s Hospital, Dr. Gilbert began teaching at Northwestern’s dispensary almost immediately, an activity he continued his entire life, except for a period of service in the Medical Corps of the Army during World War I. Simultaneously, he worked as a general practitioner in Chicago Heights, for the first seven years of his teaching career.
He was appointed to the staff of St. Luke’s Hospital in 1916 and promptly began the expansion of the Social Service and Outpatient Departments. With the cooperation of the women’s board of the hospital, he acquired one of the first electrocardiographs in Chicago. For years, he operated the Electrocardiograph Department almost single-handedly.
In June 1921, a group of physicians, including Dr. Gilbert, met to discuss the formation of a heart association in Chicago. In May 1922, the Association for the Prevention and Relief of Heart Disease was launched. At the first meeting of the Board of Governors, Dr. Gilbert was chosen chair of the executive committee, a position he held until 1928. He served as president of the organization, which became the Chicago Heart Association, from 1935 until 1940. He served continuously on the executive committee until 1951, at which time he was transferred to the Honorary Board of Governors,
In addition to his work in cardiology, he was one of the organizers of the Central Society for Clinical Research and served as a president of the Chicago Society of Internal Medicine. He was president of the Medical Board from 1935 to 1937 and then served as chairman of its Executive Committee from 1937 to 1944.
He was also Editor-in-Chief of the Archives of Internal Medicine for eighteen years, beginning in 1932. He was known as an efficient editor, ruthless in his rejection of long, meaningless articles but ready to give space to an unknown author when he recognized a spark of ingenuity or promise.
In spite of his many other obligations, he retained a passion for teaching. In 1939, after he had attained the rank of Professor of Medicine, he was chosen as chair of the Department of Medicine at Northwestern, a post that he occupied until his retirement in August 1950.
He continued to participate in public health issues, even after retirement. At the time of his death, he was a member of the mayor’s committee for the reorganization of the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium.
Beyond these appointments, one of Dr. Clark’s greatest contributions to medicine was his encouragement and mentorship of those looking to enter the profession. His infectious enthusiasm, strong beliefs and principles, and reputation as an outstanding clinician and clinical investigator attracted a large group of young internists, surgeons, physiologists and laboratory technicians who adopted many of his methodologies.