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U.S. Army Major Frederick Fuller Russell

1907 - 1913

Capt. Frederick Fuller RussellU.S. Army Capt. (later Major) Frederick Fuller Russell was named the seventh curator of the Army Medical Museum (now the National Museum of Health and Medicine) upon the death of U.S. Army Maj. James Carroll. Russell, 37 years old at the time, was also named professor of bacteriology and clinical microscopy at the Army Medical School.

Russell had completed his pre-medical work at Cornell University and had earned his medical degree in 1893 at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. After serving an internship and residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York, and studying in Berlin, he received a commission in 1898 as first lieutenant and assistant surgeon in the U.S. Army.

Russell was promoted to captain in 1903. He had served in Puerto Rico and, briefly, at the museum, in 1900.

U.S. Army Major Frederick Fuller RussellIn the summer of 1908, U.S. Army Surgeon General Robert M. O'Reilly sent then Capt. Russell to Europe to study at firsthand the methods and the experience of the British and German armies in anti-typhoid vaccination. This assignment resulted in a report that the Surgeon General described as a "very valuable treatise on the epidemiology of this disease to date." The history of vaccination as a method of protecting troops against typhoid fever, including the experiences of the British and German armies with voluntary vaccination, was considered by a special board of officers of the newly created Medical Reserve Corps. Members of the board were eminent clinicians and pathologists, and Russell served as recorder.

Russell, promoted to major in 1909, prepared a special room in the Army Medical Museum as a vaccine laboratory for manufacturing vaccine and vaccinating volunteers, the first of who came from the museum and the medical school. The new laboratory, with "complete equipment of entirely new apparatus, specially planned for this purpose" of manufacturing vaccine, was completed and 10,841 volunteers were vaccinated by the end of 1910. Vaccination was made compulsory for military personnel the following year. The reduction in the incidence of the disease was dramatic.

U.S. Army Major Frederick Fuller RussellAlso in 1910, Russell was instrumental in making a case that having the museum, library, and school in the same building was too cramped. As a solution, after 15 years of operation in the museum's building, the Army Medical School and its equipment were relocated to a building at 721 13th St., NW that had been turned over to the Medical Department by the Quartermaster's Department.

Russell's service as curator of the museum ended in 1913. His further U.S. Army service included distinguished work during World War I in the field of preventive medicine, as head of the Division of laboratories and Infectious Disease of the Surgeon General's Office. In 1920, Col. Russell, as he then was, resigned from the U.S. Army to be commissioned as a brigadier general in the Medical Reserve Corps, and to become director of the International Health Board of the Rockefeller Foundation. He closed his career in medical science and administration by several years of service as professor of preventive medicine at Harvard.