Former St. Louis Park Resident Dr. John Jerome Wild is known as the father of the modern ultrasound.


Dr. Wild was born in Kent, England in 1914 and grew up in London. He received his B.A. in Natural Science (Honors, 1936), his M.A. in Natural Science (1940), his M.B.B.Chir. in Medicine (1942), which is equivalent to M.D. in the US, and his Ph.D. (1971) from Cambridge University, England.


Dr. Wild served as an intern at University College Hospital in London and then served as a staff surgeon at Miller General, St. Charles and North Middlesex hospitals during the period of 1938  to 1942. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1944 at the rank of Captain, serving as a venereologist until 1945, treating hundreds of British and American soldiers for venereal disease.


In 1946 Dr. Wild left London to serve as a research fellow in the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.


In 1949 he discovered that sonic energy, or a pulse-echo ultrasound, was reflected as echoes from soft biological tissue. This discovery led to the production of the first real-time ultrasonic living tissue. The advancement made it possible to detect tumors without harmful X-rays.


From 1951-1953 Dr. Wild was a research associate in the Department of Electrical Engineering were he conducted interdisciplinary research funded by National Cancer Institute grants.


In 1953 Dr. Wild established the Medico Technological Research Department at St. Barnabas Hospital in Minneapolis, and continued his interdisciplinary clinical research under grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart Institute until 1960.


Dr. Wild in 1953


From 1960 to 1963 he served as the Director of the Medico Technological Research Unit at the Minnesota Foundation in St. Paul.


Dr. Wild was known to the crowd at the Mixers Bar on the West Bank.  In his book, Go Deep and Take Plenty of Root, Erik Storlie suggested that Wild sought test subjects for his breast cancer detection experiments at the Alvin Burlesque in downtown Minneapolis.


After his research lab was closed, Dr. Wild served as the Director of the Medico-Technological Research Institute in Minneapolis until it closed in 1999.


Photo by Diane Griffin


Dr. Wild also worked as a doctor in private practice from 1966 until he retired.


Dr. Wild has won many prizes and has appeared on  many programs, including:


  • The Smithsonian’s “Inventions VI” (#68, 1996) series featured Dr. Wild for his achievements in diagnostic medical ultrasound, which aired on the Discovery Channel.


  • Bill Kurtis’ “New Explorers:  Doctors with X-Ray Vision” (1997) featured Dr. Wild’s work, which aired on public television (PBS).


Dr. Wild died on September 18, 2009, at the N.C. Little Memorial Hospice in Edina, from complications of a stroke.  He was 95.


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