June 25, 2012

Flexner family’s contributions to medical education are honored

Four generations of the Flexner family, starting with Abraham Flexner, who in 1886 earned a bachelor of arts degree from The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Arts and Sciences, and continuing on to his great-great-nephew Charles Flexner, who graduated from the university’s School of Medicine in 1982, will be honored with the 2012 Heritage Award from the university’s Alumni Association.

The award recognizes the Flexner family’s long-standing commitment to medical education, which includes six graduates of Johns Hopkins’ schools of Medicine, Arts and Sciences and Public Health. The award will be presented to Charles Flexner, on behalf of the entire Flexner family, at the Johns Hopkins Medical & Surgical Association’s next biennial meeting, in June 2013.

“The contributions made by the Flexner family to how the United States and Canada train and educate their physician scientists have endured for more than a century, and cannot be overstated,” says Edward D. Miller, the Frances Watt Baker, M.D., and Lenox D. Baker Jr., M.D., Dean of the Medical Faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “The Flexner family has profoundly influenced how millions of physicians practice medicine, and its efforts continue today with Charles’ current work to progressively reform and evaluate what our current 800 Johns Hopkins medical residents and fellows should get from their years of training here. Charles led a task force whose goals were to determine what the physician of the 21st century should look like and the best way to educate and train the model physician.”

Miller says that Abraham Flexner’s groundbreaking 1910 report on medical education revolutionized how medical schools across North America operated, forcing universities to adopt stricter standards on entrance requirements, size and training of faculty, size of endowment and tuition, quality of laboratories and availability of teaching hospitals whose physicians and surgeons would serve as clinical teachers.

Among the many Flexner family forebears with ties to Johns Hopkins, Miller cites Simon Flexner, who studied from 1898 to 1890 under William Henry Welch, one of Johns Hopkins’ four founding physicians, and who became a noted pathologist and bacteriologist in his own right (he was later director of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, now Rockefeller University); Louis B. Flexner, class of 1927, and his wife, Josefa B. Flexner, who served on the faculties of the schools of Arts and Sciences and Public Health; physician Morris Flexner, Class of 1914 and Charles’ grandfather; and physician John M. Flexner, Class of 1954, Charles’ father.

Charles Flexner, a clinical pharmacologist and infectious disease specialist, is a professor of medicine, pharmacology and molecular sciences at the School of Medicine. He is also a professor of international health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Related websites

Heritage Award:



Charles Flexner: