Violet H. Keiller, MD (1930)
Dr. Violet Hannah Keiller was born on October 27, 1887 in Edinburgh, Scotland to Dr. William Keiller and Eliza Henrietta McLaughlin Keiller. She had two sisters, Mabel and Margaret, and one brother, Thomas. Dr. Keiller came to the United States with her parents in 1891 when her father became the first professor of anatomy at The University of Texas Medical Branch.
Dr. Keiller died of a heart attack on September 24, 1958.
Medical Education & Practice
Dr. Keiller received her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia in 1910 and received her MD degree from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 1914. She was one of only three women in her graduating class. Dr. Keiller did not do an internship, but immediately started assisting Dr. James E. Thompson, who was professor of surgery at UTMB. She taught histology and eventually became a professor of surgical pathology.
In 1927, Dr. Keiller moved to Houston to practice pathology at Hermann Hospital where she specialized in cancer diagnosis. She continued teaching at UTMB, returning to Galveston two days out of the week to teach classes. She eventually became chief pathologist at Hermann Hospital, and remained there until her retirement in 1953.
When Baylor University College of Medicine moved to Houston in 1943, Dr. Keiller accepted a professorship there and became emeritus professor of pathology after her retirement. Dr. Keiller continued consulting until near the end of her life when her health limited her activities. Known as the “dean” of Houston pathologists, Dr. Keiller had consulted for Hermann Hospital, M.D. Anderson Hospital, and the Tumor Institute. In honor of her tenure and outstanding work, after her retirement the Violet H. Keiller Award was established at Hermann Hospital by former interns and residents as an award to honor one outstanding student each year.
Among her work with professional organizations, Dr. Keiller was a member of the Harris County Medical Society, the American Medical Association, and the American Society of Clinical Pathology. She was a diplomat of the American Board of Pathology and was a long-time member of the Texas Medical Association. She has the distinction of being the only female member of the Texas Surgical Society during its first fifty years.
In 1982, twenty-four years after she had died, the new surgical pathology laboratory at Hermann Hospital was named in Dr. Keiller’s honor and has on display the tiny black microscope that she used.
Texas Society of Pathologists
Dr. Keiller was one of the first female members of the TSP. She served as its first female president in 1930. Her presidency was during a time when there were many technological advances in medicine, including in the area of tumor diagnosis.
An April, 1916 issue of the Texas Medical Journal devoted its issue to “a demonstration of what women are doing in the practice of medicine in Texas.” Dr. Keiller was one of the contributors.
Keiller, V. H. (1922). A contribution to the anatomy of spina bifida. Brain, 45(1), 31-103.
(Cited by 40)
Tennent, D. H., & Keiller, V. H. (1911). The anatomy of Pentaceros reticulatus.