April 15, 1916–May 27, 1996
BY DAVID LAGUNOFF AND GEORGE M. MARTIN
EARL PHILIP BENDITT, a preeminent twentieth-century experimental pathologist, was born in Philadelphia 16 years after the start of the century and died the width of the country away in Seattle 4 years before the century’s end. Benditt maintained a lifelong enthusiasm for the methodologies the century provided for the assessment of biologic form and function and for the statistical modes useable to assess the acquired numbers. For his studies of disease processes he exploited quantitative histochemistry and electron microscopy, utilized biochemical techniques, and in the late 1980s turned increasingly to the tools of molecular biology for his experiments. From electrophoresis using the Tiselius apparatus to acrylamide gels to in situ hybridization, he mastered procedures as he needed them. The propensity to embrace any discipline that might help to elucidate the natural history of disease was a central feature of Benditt’s commitment to experimental pathology.
Benditt was raised in Philadelphia through the Depression in a large Jewish family; his father worked in the family tobacco business begun by his grandfather, a German-Jewish cigar maker. Benditt’s father went to great lengths to provide him with adventures in the widening world. When