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June 16, 1999

Max Samter, MD

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;281(23):2255-2256. doi:10.1001/jama.281.23.2255

Max Samter, MD, emeritus professor of medicine, associate dean for clinical affairs and chief of staff of University Hospital at the University of Illinois, and retired founding director of the Max Samter Institute of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Grant Hospital of Chicago, died of cerebrovascular disease on February 9, 1999, at the age of 90.

Son of a Berlin physician, Dr Samter studied medicine at Freiburg, Innsbruck, and Berlin, where he received his MD degree in 1933. While still an intern at Charite Hospital, in a study of asthma he reported his inventive design of inhalational challenge with histamine and allergens—a 20-year forerunner of current-day bronchoprovocation for diagnostic demonstration of airways hyperactivity—and a classic publication in allergy. After Hitler's takeover removed Jewish physicians from university center training, Dr Samter spent the next 4 years in general practice in Karow, a small Berlin suburb. The fastest available BMW motorcycle, which he rode on house calls, brought him into "amiable" contact with Nazi storm troopers who gathered at the local agency for bike talk. Putting motorcyclophil camaraderie ahead of officially dictated anti-Semitism, storm troopers provided him with warnings of impending periodic Gestapo raids and opportunities to temporarily hide in Bavaria. In 1937, through a formal medical school appointment orchestrated by benefactors at Johns Hopkins University, Dr Samter obtained permission to leave Germany for the United States.

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