Curious about the namesake of Becker Muscular Dystrophy, UT medical student Frank Hill did some research on the doctor who discovered it. As it turns out, Dr. Peter Emil Becker was a Nazi.
During his research, Hill first stumbled across an autobiographical article written in 1985 in which Becker denies ever being a member of the Nazi party. But further into his research, Hill discovered a German federal government document that said otherwise: Becker’s denazification file.
“Right then I thought it was sort of interesting that in 1985, in the twilight of his career, Dr. Becker denies ever having been a member of the Nazi party,” Hill said. “But I have his denazification file from 1948 — which clearly says that he was, in fact, a member.”
Hill’s interest in medicine during the Third Reich era led him to research the doctor further, knowing that he was alive and in Germany during that time. He planned to use his research for a class presentation in his History of Medicine elective course.
After his presentation, Hill was encouraged by Dr. Steven H. Selman, professor of urology, to do more. He wrote an article, which was published in the August issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics, which actually is the same journal that featured Becker’s autobiographical article in 1985.
“I really want to encourage other students to do the elective because it inspired me to do solid research on a topic that interested me,” said Hill, a third-year student pursuing doctor of medicine and master of business administration degrees.
Hill is the third student from the History of Medicine elective course to have a paper published. In 2011, Bradley Buck had a paper published in the journal Urology, and student Petar Bajic was published in the journal Xenotransplantation in 2012.