Today is the anniversary of the death of the American physician Caspar Wistar ("Wiss-Star"), the Younger.
His grandfather was also Caspar Wistar, so the Younger distinction helps people tell them apart. Wistar was a Professor of Anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1777, Caspar Wistar treated the wounded during the battle of Germantown and decided he would pursue medical training.
Wistar had some pretty impressive friends: his best friend was probably Thomas Jefferson, and his most famous botany friend was probably Alexander von Humboldt.
During his life, every Sunday Night, Wistar would hold a salon - an open house - at his home on the corner of Fourth and Locust Street. His friends would stop by - along with any members of academia, or the elite or high society, along with other accomplished people who happened to be in Philadelphia that evening. They all knew that Wistar's house was the place to go to meet up with the best minds of the day.
The botanist Thomas Nuttall named the genus Wisteria in Caspar Wistar's honor (some people say Wistaria to reflect the proper spelling of Wistar's last name. Either is fine because guess what - the misspelling is preserved for all time under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature). It's like one of my kid's birth certificates - it can be amended, but the original is wrong and will be until the end of time.
Wistar died of a heart ailment unexpectedly on January 18, 1818. His final utterance was: "I wish well to all mankind."
After Wistar died, his friends continued holding Wistar parties for a core group of 50 members. They would each take turns hosting, and the kept the tradition going for another forty years.
Today, Wistar ("Wiss-Star")is the name of The Wistar Institute, the nation's first independent biomedical research center. Today, they focus on cancer, infectious disease & vaccine research to benefit human health.