Biographical Sketch of Herbert L. Fred, MD, MACP


Herbert L. Fred, MD, MACP, is Emeritus Professor of Medicine, McGovern Medical School, Houston, Texas. He currently serves as Associate Editor of the Texas Heart Institute Journal.

He was born in Waco, Texas, on June 11, 1929.  After graduating as valedictorian of his high school class of 400 students in 1946, Dr, Fred entered the Rice Institute in Houston, where he received a BA degree in 1950.  Four years later, he earned his MD degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency training at the University of Utah Affiliated Hospitals in Salt Lake City. After two years in the U.S. Air Force, he returned to the University of Utah as chief medical resident and then became an instructor in medicine there. In 1962, he joined the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. During his seven years at Baylor, he was named the Outstanding Full-time Clinical Faculty Member by the senior classes of 1964 and 1965. And in 1967, the seniors at Baylor dedicated their annual, the Aesculapian, to him.

In July 1969, Dr. Fred accepted the position of Director of Medical Education at St. Joseph Hospital, Houston, and in 1971 became professor of internal medicine at The University of Texas Medical School in Houston. Between 1974 and 1979, the interns and residents at both The University of Texas Medical School and St. Joseph Hospital gave him a yearly award for “Excellence in Teaching.” Each year from 1990 to 1999, he earned the “Dean’s Excellence Award,” and in 1999, he received the prestigious Benjy F. Brooks, MD Outstanding Clinical Faculty Award from the Alumni Association of The University of Texas Medical School in Houston.

Over the years, Dr. Fred continued to receive numerous awards and honors─most for teaching, others for writing.  Houston City Magazine selected him as one of Houston’s ’84 most interesting people in 1984, and in 1988, Houston mayor Kathy Whitmire honored him by designating October 7, 1988, as Dr. Herbert L. Fred Day.  In that same year, then-President Ronald Reagan issued Dr. Fred a Presidential Commendation in recognition of his 27 years as a medical educator in Houston.  In 1994, The American Medical Writers Association, Southwest Chapter, awarded him a Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding contributions as a medical writer and journal editor.

In 2002, his former trainees honored him for 50 years of bedside teaching by founding The Herb Fred Medical Society, Inc.

Dr. Fred was named The American College of Physicians─American Society of Internal Medicine Distinguished Teacher for 2004.  That same year, he received his Mastership in The American College of Physicians.  In December 2004, he was The Donald Church Balfour Visiting Professor in Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  And in May, 2005, he won the TIAA-CREF Distinguished Medical Educator Award.

On February 18, 2006, Dr. Fred received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Waco, Texas, Independent School District Education Foundation.  Four days later, at The University of Texas Medical School in Houston, The John P. McGovern, MD, Center for Health, Humanities, and Human Spirit presented a film created by medical students titled, A Special Tribute to Herbert L. Fred, MD.  In May, 2007, Dr. Fred received The Federation of State Medical Boards Award for Excellence in Editorial Writing.  In November, 2012, the Texas Chapter of The American College of Physicians gave him The Laureate Award for his abiding commitment to excellence in medical care, education, and community service.  On March 15, 2013, the Quality of Life Research Center at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, granted him a Certificate of Recognition as an exemplary mentor in the positive development of junior colleagues in the profession.

His additional honors include a film on YouTube titled “In Honor of Herbert L. Fred, MD, MACP,” on April 11, 2015; the Honoree of a Gala benefiting the Texas Medical Center Library on September 18, 2015; The John P. McGovern Compleat Physician Award, on January 13, 2017, presented annually to one physician in America whose career is founded on the Oslerian ideals of medical excellence; a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from the U.S. House of Representatives on January 13, 2017, for dedication and commitment to the practice of medicine and the healing arts; and Honoree: “A Tribute to Herbert L. Fred, MD, MACP.” Special Grand Rounds. McGovern Medical School, Houston, Texas, February 2, 2017.

Dr. Fred lectured or was a visiting professor of medicine throughout the United States and parts of China, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, and Denmark.  In addition, he authored 20 medical book reviews, chapters in 6 medical texts, 502 journal articles, and 6 medical books of his own, one of which was nominated for the National Book Award.

His love for and appreciation of libraries culminated in construction of The Herbert L. Fred, MD, MACP Student Study Hall, which opened March 30, 2016, in the Texas Medical Center Library.  Medical students and house officers can gain access to the Hall 24-7-365.

He served on the editorial boards of 5 national medical journals, was on the Board of Governors of the American Osler Society from 1994-1997, and was chair of the Board of Trustees of Houston’s HCA Medical Center Hospital from 1994-1995.  Dr. Fred was President of the Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism from 1996-1998 and was on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Texas Medical Center Library from 2007-2014.

Many of his former students have become leaders in American medicine, including a head of the United States Food and Drug Administration, a medical school chancellor, a president of a health science center, a president of the American College of Physicians, a president of a state medical association, a president of the American College of Gastroenterology, a president of the Southwestern Surgical Congress, 3 medical school deans, 13 department chairs, 17 division chiefs, 8 training program directors, an executive director of a state board of medical examiners, and 3 different presidents of the Harris County Medical Society, the largest county medical society in America.

In 1966, well before the current emphasis on physical fitness, Dr. Fred became interested in developing a strong body as well as a strong mind. Consequently, he began to run. Starting with a win in a two-mile cross-country race, he quickly graduated to marathons and then to ultramarathons (100-kilometer, 100-mile, and 24-hour races). From 1980 to 1983, he set a number of national age and age-group records for ultradistances, including a 100-mile run in 17 hours, 2 minutes, 3 seconds at the age of 53. Three years later, he was still setting national age records in 24-hour track runs. On April 20, 2016, he completed an entire year of running one mile or more every day─a world record for 86-year-olds.  He ended his running career on October 2, 2016, having totaled 253,010 miles─more documented lifetime miles than anyone else in the world.  His interest in sports medicine led to his appointment in 1979 as adjunct professor in the Department of Health and Physical Education at his alma mater, Rice University (formerly, the Rice Institute).