Walter Alvarez

Walter Alvarez

American physician, professor at the University of California
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Walter Alvarez
  2. Family Background
  3. Childhood and Education
  4. Contributions to Medicine
  5. Legacy and Honors
  6. Career as a Medical Writer

Biography of Walter Alvarez

Walter Alvarez was an American physician and professor at the University of California. He gained fame among the general North American public through his numerous appearances on medical topics in newspapers, radio, and television.

Family Background

Walter's father, Luis F. Alvarez, was a renowned American physician of Spanish descent, known for both his medical and research activities. In 1878, he married Clementina Schultz, Walter's future mother. Walter's sister, Mabel Alvarez, was a well-known artist.

Childhood and Education

Walter spent his childhood in Hawaii, where his family moved and his father worked as a government physician in a local leprosarium. Walter and his wife, Harriet Skidmore Smythe, had four children: Gladys, Luis (a physicist and Nobel laureate), Robert, and Bernice.

After graduating from Stanford University in 1910, Walter began working as a practicing physician. From 1913 until the end of 1925, he had a practice in San Francisco and conducted medical research at the University of California, Berkeley.

Contributions to Medicine

In 1934, Walter became a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota. He served as a consultant at the Mayo Clinic, specializing in physiology and neurogenic disorders of the digestive system. Alvarez authored several dozens of books on medical topics and was awarded the Friedenwald Medal by the American Gastroenterological Association in 1951.

Walter Alvarez is widely recognized as the founder of electrogastrography. He conducted the first electrogastrographic studies in the early 1920s, giving the new method the name "electrogastrogram." The modern technique of epigastric electrogastrography is still performed based on Alvarez's methodology.

Legacy and Honors

Several medical terms and awards have been named in honor of Walter Alvarez. These include the "Alvarez Syndrome," which refers to hysteric or neurotic bloating of the abdomen without any clinical cause or excessive gas in the digestive tract, and the "Alvarez Waves," which are painless uterine contractions that occur throughout pregnancy.

Additionally, the "Walter C. Alvarez Memorial Award" is given for outstanding approaches and methods of communicating healthcare issues to a broad audience. The "Alvarez Award of Electrogastrography" recognizes the best work in the field of electrogastrography at conferences held by the International Electrogastrography Society (IEGGS).

Career as a Medical Writer

Since 1950, Alvarez began writing a medical column, which soon spread across North America in hundreds of daily and weekly newspapers. Thanks to this and his numerous appearances on radio and television, he became one of the most well-known doctors in the United States, earning the nickname "The American House Doctor."