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The Legacy of Paul Beeson (A Thanksgiving Message)

November 27, 2019
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone,

I never met Paul Beeson, and, to my knowledge, there are only five people left at Yale who worked with him: Fred Kantor, John Forrest, Lawrence Cohen, Vincent DeVita, and Henry Binder. Though Dr. Beeson departed more than half a century ago, his legacy remains. We feel his spirit whenever we assemble in the Fitkin amphitheater, where his portrait hangs on the wall. We recognize his memory in the names of our softball team, the Beeson Bombers, and our resident publication, the Beeson Beat. Most importantly, we honor him with the exquisite care we provide on the Beeson Medical Service.

For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Beeson chaired our Department from 1952-1965. He was one of the giants of mid-20th century medicine, famous for his work leading to the discovery of cytokines. His 1961 article on fever of unknown origin, written with his resident, Robert Petersdorf, remains a classic.

Dr. Beeson was a legendary teacher and diagnostician who mentored countless future academic leaders. He led by example. Despite power and fame, he remained humble, listening and learning, even from the most junior team members.

Dr. Beeson’s values—particularly his commitment to collaboration, community, and kindness—had a lasting impact on our Department. We recognize his influence today when we highlight teamwork over individual heroism, when we embrace diversity and respect for one another, and when we extend kindness to all members of our community- patients and families, staff, trainees, and colleagues alike.

In these challenging times, it can be difficult to witness much of the misery unfolding in the world. But whenever I feel discouraged, I shift my gaze to the exceptional work each of you performs every day with your patient care, your scholarship, and your teaching. The world has much to learn from you.

On this Thanksgiving morning, I am grateful to be part of this residency family. You constantly inspire me with your dedication to your craft and your commitment to our deepest values: collaboration, community, and kindness. Dr. Beeson would be proud.

Wishing everyone a joyous and Happy Thanksgiving,


PS An extra special thank you to those of you who will spend this holiday in the hospital, healing and comforting our patients.


Submitted by Mark David Siegel on November 29, 2019