Poth, Edgar J. (1899–1989)

By: Chester R. Burns

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Edgar J. Poth, professor of surgery, was born on February 1, 1899, in Seguin, Texas, the son of Edward William and Josephine Olga (Schwab) Poth. After attending public schools in Seguin and Corpus Christi, he studied chemistry and physics at the University of Texas, where he earned a bachelor's degree (1922) and a master's degree (1923). He then studied physical chemistry at the University of California and received his Ph.D. in 1925. In 1927 he became an instructor in the Department of Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. While continuing to teach and engage in research, Poth earned a medical degree from this school in 1931. During those years he was also given permission to work independently in the research laboratory of the Department of Surgery. He received postgraduate training in surgery at Stanford University and later became a member of that institution's Department of Surgery. He subsequently held teaching positions at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine and at Johns Hopkins.

Poth joined the Department of Surgery of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in July of 1942 and taught there for more than forty years. He was director of the Surgical Research Laboratory for eighteen years (1943–61) and was named Ashbel Smith Professor of Surgery in 1964. Poth, author of more than 160 scientific papers, was especially interested in the management of bacterial growth associated with surgical diseases of the intestinal tract. He was a member of several professional societies and served on the board of governors of the American College of Surgeons (1962–71). Throughout his career he served as a consultant in surgery to the United States Air Force. On December 22, 1928, he married Gaynelle Robertson, then a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania, who eventually practiced ophthalmology in Galveston and served as chairman of the Division of Ophthalmology at UTMB for a number of years. After her death Poth married Annie Rae Williams, in 1982. Poth died in Galveston on October 25, 1989.

Galveston Daily News, October 27, 1989. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston: A Seventy-five Year History (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967). Who's Who in America, 1980–81.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Chester R. Burns, “Poth, Edgar J.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/poth-edgar-j.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

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