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Edward D. Freis Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS C 550

Abstract

A pioneer in the study of hypertension, Edward D. Freis, M.D., is best known for leading the 5-year Veterans Administration Cooperative Study on Antihypertensive Agents which proved the value of antihypertensive drugs in decreasing morbidity and mortality; this study was the first multi-clinic, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of its kind. Freis's collection of articles, photographs, scrapbooks, and subject files chronicle his sixty-year career in the study of hypertension and hemodynamics.

Dates

  • 1926-2004

Extent

18.3 Linear Feet (21 boxes)

Creator

Abstract

A pioneer in the study of hypertension, Edward D. Freis, M.D., is best known for leading the 5-year Veterans Administration Cooperative Study on Antihypertensive Agents which proved the value of antihypertensive drugs in decreasing morbidity and mortality; this study was the first multi-clinic, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of its kind. Freis's collection of articles, photographs, scrapbooks, and subject files chronicle his sixty-year career in the study of hypertension and hemodynamics.

Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine

Access Restrictions

Portions of the collection are restricted according to HMD's Access to Health Information of Individuals policy. Contact the Reference Staff for information regarding access. For access to the policy and application form, please visit https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/manuscripts/phi.pdf.

Copyright and Re-use Information

Donor's copyrights were transferred to the public domain. Archival collections often contain mixed copyrights; while NLM is the owner of the physical items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. It is the user's responsibility to research and understand any applicable copyright and re-publication rights not allowed by fair use. NLM does not grant permissions to publish.

Privacy Information

Archives and manuscript collections may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in any collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which the National Library of Medicine assumes no responsibility.

Biographical Note

Edward David Freis (1912-2005) was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 13, 1912, one of four sons of Roy and Rose (Goldstein) Freis. He attended school in Chicago, graduating from Nicholas Seen High School in 1930, and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona in 1936. He married Willa Irene Hussey on August 12, 1936, after they met in college. They had three children before eventually divorcing around 1974; the two remained close until Willa's death in 1999. A year after the divorce, Freis met Mary Rose Curtis, the woman who would be his companion for the last thirty years of his life.

Continuing his education at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, Freis earned his M.D. in 1940. He interned at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston from 1940 to 1942, serving as House Physician of the 5th Medical Service of Boston University at Boston City Hospital from 1941 to 1942. When the United States entered into World War II Freis joined the U.S. Air Force and served at Lincoln Air Force Base in Nebraska as Assistant Chief and Chief of Laboratory Services from 1942 until 1944. He then became Chief of Laboratory Service in the Rheumatic Fever Research Program at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho.

After leaving the armed services in 1945, Freis returned to Boston for a cardiology residency at Evans Memorial Hospital from 1946 to 1947, and afterwards held the position of Research Fellow for two years. While at Evans, Freis authored his first article on the benefits of using drugs in fighting the effects of hypertension. In addition to this work at the hospital, he taught at Boston University of Medicine as an Instructor of Medicine.

Freis's growing interest in the study of hypertension led him away from Boston to a joint appointment at the Veterans Administration Hospital and Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC in 1949; there he would build his reputation and remain for the rest of his career. From 1949 to 1959, Freis served as Assistant Chief and then Chief of Medical Service at the V.A. Hospital, and taught at the Georgetown University Medical Center. A year after joining the faculty, he established the Hypertension Clinic at the Medical Center and served as its chief for ten years from 1950 to 1960. Beginning in 1957 he investigated the first orally effective diuretic, an agent called chlorothiazide. His work led to a promotion in 1959 to Senior Medical Investigator. It was in this capacity that Freis would make his greatest contribution to the study of hypertension: he set out to prove his theories that hypertension was a cause of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure, and not merely a symptom of underlying vascular disease.

In 1964 Freis and his researchers at the Veterans Administration designed and led the Veterans Administration Cooperative Study Group on Antihypertensive Agents. This five-year study, which involved 17 hospitals and over 500 patients, was the first multi-clinic, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of its kind. Freis and his colleagues based the structure of this new study on a similar trial in antituberculosis research at the V.A., and while it was a continuation of sorts of earlier antihypertensive studies, the initial goals of the trial were to determine the potency of certain antihypertensive drugs. In particular, the researchers looked at occurrences of morbidity and mortality in cases of moderate to severe hypertension. The results of this undertaking confirmed Freis's belief that even moderate hypertension could be deadly, and that treatment through drug therapy could reduce the death rate and help prevent the development of serious complications such as stroke, congestive heart and kidney failure.

Little fanfare accompanied the release in 1970 of the study's results, until Freis was awarded the Albert Lasker Foundation Clinical Research Award in 1971 for his role in the V.A. Cooperative Study. Mary Lasker of the Foundation was so convinced of the findings that she brought them to the attention of the National Institute of Health's Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Elliot Richardson; shortly thereafter in 1972 he established the High Blood Pressure Education Program under the auspices of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The relative success of this first cooperative study laid the groundwork for many subsequent studies, many headed by Freis in his role as Senior Medical Investigator.

Throughout his long career, Freis actively participated in professional organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Medical Association. He served on the editorial boards of several medical journals including Circulation and American Heart Journal. He has been recognized numerous times for his work, receiving the CIBA Award for Hypertension Research from the American Heart Association in 1981, and the first ever Stevo Julius Award for Education in Hypertension from the International Society of Hypertension in 2000. The National Conference on High Blood Pressure Control named an award after him in 1985.

Having received recognition for his contributions to the study of hypertension, Freis continued to work as a Distinguished Physician with the Veterans Administration until his death at 92 in February 2005. He had authored several books and chapters, countless lectures, and nearly 400 articles in medical journals worldwide. One of his most important articles, however, appeared early in his career: his "Hemodynamics of Hypertension," published in Physiological Reviews in 1960, drew attention to the relationship between circulation and hypertension. Many today consider this to be a classic text in basic hypertension; some of his colleagues rank this article with his V.A. study in terms of contribution to cardiovascular research.

Brief Chronology
    Date Event
  • 1912 Born Edward David Freis in Chicago, Illinois (May 13)
  • 1936 Receives B.S., University of Arizona. Marries Willa Irene Hussey (August 12); they have 3 children and eventually divorce (circa 1974)
  • 1940 Receives M.D., Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • 1940-1942 Internship, Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston
  • 1941-1942 House Physician, 5th Medical Service of Boston University, Boston City Hospital
  • 1942-1944 Assistant Chief and Chief of Laboratory Service, U.S. Air Force (Lincoln Air Force Base, Lincoln, Nebraska)
  • 1944-1945 Chief of Laboratory Service, Rheumatic Fever Research Program (Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho)
  • 1946-1947 Assistant Resident in Medicine, Evans Memorial Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • 1946-1949 Instructor in Medicine, Boston University of Medicine
  • 1947-1949 Research Fellow, Evans Memorial Hospital
  • 1949-1954 Assistant Chief, Medical Service, Veterans Administration Hospital (Washington, DC)
  • 1949-1957 Adjunct Clinical Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University Medical School
  • 1949-1965 Director, Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, Georgetown University Medical Center
  • 1950-1960 Chief, Hypertension Clinic, Georgetown University Medical Center
  • 1954-1959 Chief, Medical Service, Veterans Administration Hospital
  • 1957-2005 Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center emeritus, ca. 2000-2005
  • 1957 Studies first orally effective diuretic, chlorothiazide
  • 1959-1987 Senior Medical Investigator, Veterans Administration Hospital
  • 1960 Publishes "The Hemodynamics of Hypertension"
  • 1968 Made Fellow in American College of Physicians
  • 1964-1970 Designs and leads the first double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-clinic randomized study of drug efficacy in hypertension: the Veterans Administration Cooperative Study on Antihypertensive Agents. Forms basis for subsequent hypertension studies.
  • 1971 Receives Albert Lasker Foundation Clinical Research Award
  • 1979 Receives first Distinguished Service Award from Editorial Board of Dialogues in Hypertension
  • 1981 Receives CIBA Award for Hypertension Research, American Heart Association
  • 1985 Receives honorary Doctor of Science, Georgetown University Medical Center; National Conference on High Blood Pressure Control names award after him
  • 1987-2005 Distinguished Physician, Veterans Administration Medical Center, and Professor emeritus, Georgetown University Medical Center
  • 2000 Receives the first Stevo Julius Award for Education in Hypertension
  • 2005 Dies February 1 at age 92

Brief Chronology

1912
Born Edward David Freis in Chicago, Illinois (May 13)
1936
Receives B.S., University of Arizona. Marries Willa Irene Hussey (August 12); they have 3 children and eventually divorce (circa 1974)
1940
Receives M.D., Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
1940-1942
Internship, Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston
1941-1942
House Physician, 5th Medical Service of Boston University, Boston City Hospital
1942-1944
Assistant Chief and Chief of Laboratory Service, U.S. Air Force (Lincoln Air Force Base, Lincoln, Nebraska)
1944-1945
Chief of Laboratory Service, Rheumatic Fever Research Program (Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho)
1946-1947
Assistant Resident in Medicine, Evans Memorial Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts)
1946-1949
Instructor in Medicine, Boston University of Medicine
1947-1949
Research Fellow, Evans Memorial Hospital
1949-1954
Assistant Chief, Medical Service, Veterans Administration Hospital (Washington, DC)
1949-1957
Adjunct Clinical Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University Medical School
1949-1965
Director, Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, Georgetown University Medical Center
1950-1960
Chief, Hypertension Clinic, Georgetown University Medical Center
1954-1959
Chief, Medical Service, Veterans Administration Hospital
1957-2005
Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center emeritus, ca. 2000-2005
1957
Studies first orally effective diuretic, chlorothiazide
1959-1987
Senior Medical Investigator, Veterans Administration Hospital
1960
Publishes "The Hemodynamics of Hypertension"
1968
Made Fellow in American College of Physicians
1964-1970
Designs and leads the first double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-clinic randomized study of drug efficacy in hypertension: the Veterans Administration Cooperative Study on Antihypertensive Agents. Forms basis for subsequent hypertension studies.
1971
Receives Albert Lasker Foundation Clinical Research Award
1979
Receives first Distinguished Service Award from Editorial Board of Dialogues in Hypertension
1981
Receives CIBA Award for Hypertension Research, American Heart Association
1985
Receives honorary Doctor of Science, Georgetown University Medical Center; National Conference on High Blood Pressure Control names award after him
1987-2005
Distinguished Physician, Veterans Administration Medical Center, and Professor emeritus, Georgetown University Medical Center
2000
Receives the first Stevo Julius Award for Education in Hypertension
2005
Dies February 1 at age 92

Collection Summary

Journal articles and reprints, books, subject files, research data, photographs, slides, and videotapes (1926-2004; 18.3 linear feet) chronicle the work of Edward D. Freis as a pioneer in the research of hypertension and hemodynamics. As a senior medical investigator at the Hypertension Research Clinic, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Freis conducted many clinical trials that led to the development of more effective treatments for hypertension. However, the collection lacks much of the original clinical data collected during his research; if this data survives they would most likely remain at the V.A. Medical Center.

His clinical research and overall expertise on hypertension are best represented in Series 3: Writings and Lectures and Series 5: Studies. Freis wrote nearly 400 articles on all aspects of hypertension; the majority of the materials in Series 3 are reprints of articles written by Freis and his colleagues. Several typescripts of his articles are also contained within this series, as are several books on hypertension authored by Freis. Series 5 contains some materials regarding studies with which Freis was involved; these items include "investigator's brochures" (compiled data), study proposals, a final draft from the landmark V.A. Cooperative Study on Antihypertensive Agents, and some illustrative materials such as graphs and photographs.

In addition to his own reprints, Freis gathered reprints and photocopies of articles and essays by others, which he annotated and supplemented with his own notes, research data, and other materials (Series 4: Subject Files). Freis organized these files into three main subject areas: Hypertension, Hemodynamics, and Miscellaneous; he also created a detailed index to the scheme. Each main subject was given a unique letter designation: H for hypertension, T for hemodynamics, and U for Miscellaneous. Subsets within each main category were numbered in ascending order, while the individual component folders were numbered in descending order (usually beginning with 34). These numbers are found within square brackets. The index contains missing file numbers, presumably by intent and to be filled in later. During processing, unclassified files were arranged alphabetically in the subseries Subjects Not Filed by Freis; when missing, titles were supplied and marked by square brackets.

Also included in the Writings and Lectures series are audio recordings, videotapes, and transcripts of medical lectures and interviews given by Freis throughout his career to various audiences. Many of the videotapes were dubbed in the late 1980s from the original films, whose locations are unknown. One videotape, "Early Hypertension TV Broadcasts," contains lectures for the American College of Physicians (1954) and the CIBA TV Clinical Symposium (1959) whereby the audience watched the speaker through closed circuit television, making them a novel presentation method for that period in time.

The collection contains little personal information about Freis apart from the scrapbooks that comprise Series 2. The scrapbooks themselves contain article reprints, some photographs, some correspondence, and programs from conferences, symposia, award ceremonies, etc. at which Freis participated or attended and are arranged chronologically. While most of the scrapbooks profile Freis's career, the next to last album in the series pertains to his retirement from the Veterans Administration; the contents consist of letters of congratulations from friends and colleagues (including Walter Mondale), as well as photographs from the farewell dinner.

In addition to the scrapbook materials, Series 1: Personal and Biographical includes CVs and bibliographies from various points in Freis's career, including a recent one from 2001. A few items document the numerous awards received by Freis, although some of the actual awards are contained within this series. Also of interest are several of Freis's golf diaries that range in date from the 1970s until just a few years before his death. A handful of portrait photographs of Freis are included among the photographic materials in Series 6, however the bulk of the series contains illustrations for lectures and articles. The slides appear to have been used by Freis during lectures and for some of his publications. He mixed and matched slides to create different lectures and others were pulled to be used in publications; they are arranged loosely by topic when possible.

Provenance

Gift, Edward D. Freis, 10/19/2004. Acc. #2004-056.

Alternate Forms Available

Portions of the Collection have been digitized and are available at: https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/.

Separated Material

  1. Nutrition and the Killer Diseases (1981)
  2. Perspectives in Cardiovascular Research, Vol. 4: Prophylactic Approach to Hypertensive Diseases (1979)
  3. Systemic Effects of Antihypertensive Agents (1976)
  4. Robinson, Donald - The Miracle Finders (1976)
  5. Hypertension and the Cardiovascular System (1972)
  6. Moser, Marvin - The Treatment of Hypertension: A Story of Myths, Misconceptions, Controversies and Heroics (2002)
  7. Pickering, Thomas - Good News about High Blood Pressure (1996)
  8. Freis. The High Blood Pressure Book: a Guide for Patients and Their Families (1979)
  9. Freis. Cardiology Reference Book (1980)
  10. Freis. Introduction to the Nature and Management of Hypertension (1974)
  11. Comroe, Julius. Retrospective: insghts into medical discovery (1977)
  12. Ruskin, Arthur. Classics in arterial hypertension (1956)
  13. Diem, Konrad, ed. Scientific tables (1962)
  14. Cannon, Walter. The way of an investigator (1945)
  15. Glasser, Otto. Medical physics (1944)
  16. Hales, Stephen. Statistical essays, containing haemastaticks (1981)
  17. Pickering, Thomas. High blood pressure (1968)
  18. Brod, Jan. The kidney (1973)

General

Processed by
Michele M. Tourney
Processing Completed
March 2005
Encoded by
Michele M. Tourney

Processing Information

The original pressure bindings were removed from the scrapbooks in Series 2 during processing and the contents re-housed; photocopies were made of Scrapbooks 1 and 39 (Freis's retirement) prior to disbinding to preserve the original context. Photocopies on acid-free paper have replaced the original newspaper clippings. An investigator's brochure from Series 5 was removed from its 3-ring binder and the contents re-housed.

Language of Materials

Collection materials primarily in English

Title
Finding Aid to the Edward D. Freis Papers, 1926-2004
Status
Unverified Partial Draft
Author
Michele M. Tourney
Date
March 2005
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English
Edition statement
1.0

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection Collecting Area

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