Founded in 1980
Biography of Donald F. Kent, MD, PhD
Dr. Donald F. Kent (1913-2009), a noted humanitarian and pioneer in the practice of family medicine, has been described by Nobel laureate and MHSNJ Past President William C. Campbell: “He cared for fairness and humility in the practice of medicine. He cared for science, history and language and, as realist and humanist, he cared about the socio-political issues that swirled around him.”
Dr. Kent, a native of East Orange, NJ, received his BA and MD degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He served as a physician in the US Army and initially established a general medical practice in Chatham, NJ. Later, he was founder and director of the Overlook Hospital Family Practice Residency program, where he taught and mentored new doctors, until his retirement in 1988. He then began new academic pursuits and, at the age of 82, became the oldest person to receive a doctorate from Drew University. His dissertation was entitled, The Medical Use of Ether and Chloroform in the Nineteenth Century. He then served as a founding faculty member of the doctoral program in medical humanities at Drew. At the age of 95, he was still teaching a course in the history of medicine.
Among his other interests, Dr. Kent was also a thespian; with the Chatham Community Players, he performed in numerous stage productions. He had one professional role, in The Crucible, with the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival.
To honor Dr. Kent, in 2013 the MHSNJ established the Donald F. Kent Memorial Lecture, delivered in the Fall of every year.