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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Wood, Edward Jenner

by Diane Cobb Cashman, 1996

12 June 1878–16 Sept. 1928

An engraving of Dr. Edward Jenner Wood published in 1910. Image from the Internet Archive.Edward Jenner Wood, physician, was born in Wilmington, the son of Thomas Fanning (1841–92), also a physician, and Mary Kennedy Sprunt Wood (1848–1932), the daughter of cotton exporter Alexander and Jane Dalziel Sprunt Wood. The elder Wood was regarded as the father of the North Carolina State Board of Health because of his role in organizing and managing it; he also cofounded the North Carolina Medical Journal. Edward J. Wood was graduated from The University of North Carolina with a B.S. degree in 1899 and received an M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1902. Returning to Wilmington, he passed the North Carolina State Medical Board examinations in 1903 and opened a practice in the town of his birth. In 1906 he went to Munich, Germany, for further medical study, and in 1910 he was elected president of the North Carolina Medical Society.

In 1918, during World War I, Wood was commissioned a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. At the end of the war he served as an assistant in clinical medicine at Guy's Hospital in London and in 1920 received a diploma in tropical medicine from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in London.

Wood's reputation was based on his expertise in tropical medicine, particularly pellagra and (tropical) sprue. Both diseases involved nutritional deficiencies endemic in the rural South in the 1920s. Wood was the author of many articles in his area of specialization, including "A Treatise on Pellagra" and the chapters on pellagra in The Oxford System of Medicine and sprue in Nelson's Loose Leaf Medicine. He delivered lectures before meetings of his colleagues as well as to the general public on how to identify these diseases and how to eradicate them through improved diet, sanitary practices in food handling and preparation, and changes in agricultural practices.

On 18 Apr. 1906 he married Louise Bellamy, and they had three children: Edward Jenner, Jr., John Dalziel, and Louise Bellamy, who married Donald Brock Koonce. Koonce was elected president of the North Carolina Medical Society in 1957.

Wood died at his home. Funeral services were conducted at the First Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, with burial in Oakdale Cemetery.


Daniel L. Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina (1924).

New Hanover County Medical Auxiliary, The Lonely Road: A History of the Physicks and Physicians of the Lower Cape Fear, 1735–1976 (1978).

Wilmington Star-News, 17 Sept. 1928, 13 July 1932.

Additional Resources:

Wood, Edward Jenner. A treatise on pellagra: for the general practitioner. New York and London : D. Appleton and Company. 1912. (accessed September 9, 2013).

Washburn, Benjamin Earle. A history of the North Carolina State Board of Health, 1877-1925. Raleigh : North Carolina State Board of Health. 1966. 89-90. (accessed September 9, 2013).

Image Credits:

Wright, E.A., engraver. "Edward J. Wood." Transactions of the Medical Society of the State of North Carolina [serial]. [Raleigh, N.C. Frontispiece.

Origin - location: