Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Edward J. Huth, doctor, editor, and author, dies at 98

Dedicated to both medicine and journalism, he helped make Annals of Internal Medicine one of most influential and often-cited medical journals in the world.

Dr. Huth helped update and reorganize the way medical research and stories were printed in journals.
Dr. Huth helped update and reorganize the way medical research and stories were printed in journals.Read moreCourtesy of the family

Edward J. Huth, 98, of Bryn Mawr, a doctor and professor who used his zest for journalism to become an influential medical editor and author, died Tuesday, Nov. 2, of vascular dementia at the Bryn Mawr Terrace assisted living residence.

Although Dr. Huth graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine in 1947 and worked for years in Philadelphia as an internist, researcher, and professor, his curious mind and a passion for journalism and education eventually led him to spend much of his career as an editor and writer.

Beginning in 1960, when he took a job as an associate editor for Annals of Internal Medicine, which is published by the Philadelphia-based American College of Physicians, until he retired in 1990 as Annals’ editor-in-chief, Dr. Huth overhauled and updated the medical publishing industry.

“He often said that it was his passion to convey to the broader medical community the evolving developments in treatments and managing disease,” said his son James.

Dr. Huth’s son John said his father “had an intense intellectual curiosity.”

Dr. Huth discarded the traditional summaries of complex issues and convention recaps that many journals had been publishing, and printed detailed new clinical research, compelling peer reviews, and editorial comment by his staff and notable contributors.

“Readers of journals have tended to trust their editors, editorial boards, and peer-reviewers to ensure the reliability and value of the synoptic views they publish,” Dr. Huth wrote in 2008 for the James Lind Library Bulletin. “But how far can they be trusted?”

To increase that trust, Dr. Huth standardized procedures for submitting manuscripts and created guidelines for how medical writers should handle authorship, conflicts of interest, industry influence over their content, and other issues that had largely gone unaddressed.

He published important pieces about hepatitis, Legionnaire’s disease, and AIDS before many other journals, and spent hours debating colleagues about which stories should be included in the next edition. Red editing pens were always scattered about his office and home.

Out of the office, he taught a class at Penn in the 1980s about publishing research papers and held more than 200 medical editing seminars and workshops around the world. He cofounded the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, edited style manuals for the Council of Science Editors and others, and published several books on writing and editing medical literature.

He published How to Write and Publish Papers in the Medical Sciences, in 1982, and a 1983 review of the book by the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal said it needs “to be read and reread at regular intervals by anyone who tries to write for publication.”

Dr. Huth championed the use of computers for writing, publishing, and storing information long before the internet. He won several awards for his work and was a member of many medical and journalism organizations. After he left Annals, he worked in the 1990s as editor-in-chief of the Online Journal of Current Clinical Trials.

Born in Philadelphia on May 15, 1923, Dr. Huth graduated from Haddonfield Memorial High School in 1941 and Wesleyan College in 1943. He completed his internship and residency at Penn in internal medicine and had academic appointments at Penn and the Medical College of Pennsylvania, now Drexel University College of Medicine.

Dr. Huth met his wife, Carol Monnik, when he was seeking a partner for a bridge game. They married in 1957, settled in Bryn Mawr, and had their two sons.

An accomplished pianist and avid photographer, Dr. Huth and his wife enjoyed attending the orchestra and theater. Best of all, she said, was their daily 9 p.m. chats during which they would catch up on the day’s events. The couple had, she said, “a close, comfortable, enduring companionship.”

“He was faithful to his wife, to his children, and to his principles,” she said.

In addition to his wife and sons, Dr. Huth is survived by five grandchildren. A sister died earlier.

A memorial service is to be livestreamed at and held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 20, at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Ave., Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010.

Donations in his name may be made to Harriton House, 500 Harriton Rd., P.O. Box 1364, Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010.