Notable Alums

J. Henry

Specialty: General Surgery

Graduation Year: 1870

J. Henry Carstens

The year 1848 saw widespread violence and revolt throughout Europe. It was also the year that J. Henry Carstens was born in Kiel, Germany, while his father, an ardent revolutionist, was serving a prison sentence for participating in various uprisings. Soon after his release from prison, the Carstens immigrated to the United States.

The circumstances under which he was born did not seem to affect the ensuing career of the highly successful surgeon. When he graduated from the Detroit Medical College in 1870, Dr. Carstens was already considered an enthusiastic and ingenious young physician, and very soon became one of the leaders in the field of Gynecology.

To Carstens, “skill, confidence and speed -- particularly speed -- were the prime essentials of a surgeon.” As a result, he became one of the most rapid surgeons in the profession. It was said that he took pride in entering the amphitheater smoking a cigar. He would lay it aside, complete the operation before it went out, and leave the operating room puffing away triumphantly.

Dr. Carstens was elected president of Detroit’s Board of Health in 1877. While serving as chief of Surgical Gynecology and Obstetrics at the medical school in 1895, he became president of the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. When the Detroit College of Medicine became the Detroit College of Medicine and Surgery in 1913, Dr. Carstens was elected president of the faculty, a position he held until his death in 1920.