Dr. Joseph Holmes was born in Champaign, Illinois in 1902. After graduating from Amherst College with an A.B. in 1930, Homles completed his M.D. degree at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1934. He finished his internship at Emory University in 1934-35. From Emory, Holmes went to the University of Maryland School of Medicine for his residency in internal medicine, which he completed in 1937. Holmes did graduate work at Columbia University in the Department of Physiology from 1937-41. In 1941 he received his Doctorate of Medical Science degree. Holmes served in the army from 1943-47, and had worked as an instructor in the School of Aviational Medicine. He continued as an assistant professor in physiology at Columbia and from 1947 he began his long career at the University of Colorado.

Being a nephrologist, his initial interest in ultrasound was it's ability to detect bubbles in hemodialysis tubings and improving solute transfer across the cellophane dialyzing membrane. Holmes began work in ultrasound at the University of Colorado Medical Center in 1950, in collaboration with the group headed by Douglass Howry. Holmes served as a liaison between Howry and the institutional support needed badly if the project was to gain financial support and proceed further. Holmes functioned as a general administrator and financial planner during those early years. Through Holmes' help, laboratory space for the ultrasound project was found at the Denver Veterans Administration Hospital and a grant was obtained from the Veterans Administration. Under these somewhat more secure conditions the Howry team constructed the most successful to-date of their "home-built" scanners, which incorporated the best of their transducer, amplification, and display systems.

The Pan Scanner fabricated by the Holmes, Howry, Posakony and Cushman team in 1957 was a real breakthrough and landmark invention in the history of B-mode ultrasonography. The team's achievement was commended by the American Medical Association in 1958 at their Scientific meeting at San Francisco, and the team's exhibit was awarded a Certificate of Merit by the Association.

The Certificate of Merit was awarded to the Howry team by the American Medical Association in 1958 at its Scientific meeting in San Francisco, for its acheivement in visualising body tissues by ultrasound.

The work of Douglass Howry, Joseph Holmes and his team is necessarily the most important pioneering work in B-mode ultrasound imaging and contact scanning in the United States that had been the direct precursor of the kind of ultrasound imaging we have today. Pioneering designs in electronic circuitries were also made in conjunction with the development of the B-scan, these included the pulse-echo generator circuitry, the limiter and log amplification circuitry and the demodulator and time gain compensation circuitries.

The Howry/ Holmes systems, although capable of producing 2-D, accurate, reproducible images of the body organs, required the patient to be totally or partially immersed in water, and remained motionless for a length of time. Migration to lighter and more mobile versions of these systems, particularly with smaller water-bag devices or transducers directly in contact and movable on the body surface of patients were imminently necessary. Homles, together with consultant engineers William Wright and Ralph (Edward) Meyerdirk, and support from the U. S. Public Health Services and the University of Colorado, continued to fabricate a new prototype compound contact scanner, which had the transducer in direct contact with the patient's body and suspended on moving railings above the patient. The apparatus and the usuage of ultrasound scanning were reported in the May 22 issue of the TIME Magazine in 1964.

After working on the project for about 2 years, the team finally came up with an innovative multi-joint articulated-arm compound contact scanner with wire mechanisms and electronic position transducing potentiometers. The transducer could be positioned by hand and moved over the scanning area in various directions by the operator. In 1962, with blessing from Holmes, Wright and Meyerdirk left the University to form the Physionics Engineering® Inc. at Longmont, Colorado, to produce and market their scanner.

Holmes was also involved with the buiding of the first artificial kidney machine in the Rocky Mountain region in 1953, and he has made hemodialysis treatment available to patients on an out-patient basis. He also studied the health hazards of anticholinesterease chemicals of the United States army at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and have made such information available to the medical community at large and the public.

Holmes together with Howry and Wright and Claude Joyner and John Reid from the University of Pennsylvania constructed the first echocardiograph in the United States in 1960. The first commercial m-mode echocardiograph was manufactured by SmithKline in 1964.

In 1951 he was named Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado, and received a joint appointment as Professor of Radiology in 1970. Holmes served as President of American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) from 1968-70. During Holmes' presidency, AIUM expanded membership and increased meeting attendance. The William J. Fry Memorial Lectureship began at the Winnipeg meeting (1969). He was also founding editor of the Journal of Clinical Ultrasound in 1973. Joseph Holmes and Ian Donald became good friends across the Atlantic and Ian Donald and John Flemming were invited to speak on their experiences at the International congress at Pittsburg hosted by Homles in 1963. Donald spoke about Homles in a speech he gave in 1967 to the World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology (WFUMB), 'I think Joe Holmes has done more than anyone to pull us all together from our several pathways'. At his death in 1982, the AIUM renamed the Pioneer Award in his honor, the Joseph H. Holmes Pioneer Award.

Joseph Holmes was loved by his colleagues, students and patients. He was inquisitive, energetic, friendly, honest and good humored. He was remarkably unselfish and did not seek personal recognition or glorification. Joseph Holmes retired in 1977 but continued on as Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Radiology at the University of Colorado. He spend his last years writing and editing publications in the field of Ultrasound. He passed away on April 5, 1982.

Part of this was adapted from the AIUM publication "A History of AIUM" by Dr. Joseph H. Holmes himself , and updated by Dr. Horace Thompson in 1984.

Image of the 1958 certificate was courtesy of Mr. G J Posakony. Picture of Holmes and scanner courtesy of the TIME Inc.

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