Remembering past greats: Isidor Clinton Rubin

Author Information

Prasad M*
(*Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India.)

Isidor Rubin (1883-1958) is mainly remembered in gynecology for the “Rubin’s test”. However, his contributions are more than this.

Born in Austria in 1883, he received medical education in New York and worked in the Mount Sinai hospital for many years. He worked with Ernest Wertheim, making improvements in malignancy surgery, and developed a keen interest in gynecologic onco-pathology. His initial descriptions of carcinoma cervix-in-situ, though not very popular, appear to have been prior to that of Papanicalou.[1]

Long before the advent of imaging techniques, he proposed anatomic-histological criteria for the cervical ectopic pregnancy, which is known as the “Rubi'ns criteria”. 
The “Rubin’s cannula” designed by him was used for evaluation of infertility. The “Rubin’s test” involved suprapubic auscultation of sound made by the air which escaped the fallopian tube into the peritoneal cavity, when injected through the cannula. Though now outdated, the cannula designed by Rubin and his test was pathbreaking and in vogue for a long time.[2] His work involving demonstration of fallopian tube patency using gas and dyes, was regarded as one of the most important advances in female infertility management of the 20th century. For all this, he was widely regarded as a leading figure in modern female infertility management.

It is a matter of pride for clinical gynecologists that Rubin’s contribution came close to winning the Nobel prize in medicine. Many of his memorabilia are preserved in the Icahn Mount Sinai Medical University, USA.[3]

Rubin served as the president of the American Gynecological Society in 1955. He traveled widely and was well regarded by clinicians all over the world. In Europe, here received an honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and gynaecologists in England, and was also awarded the “officer of the French Legion of honour” for his outstanding contributions.
The then Professor in Calcutta University, Green-Armytage, recalled about how he hosted Rubin in Calcutta in 1925. The visiting stalwart lectured and demonstrated his test, winning the respect of many orthodox Indian clinicians. In an obituary column later, Professor Armytage quoted Rubin as having said “Adventure on, for the littlest cue. The next to lighten all men, may be you”.[4]
The sixtieth death anniversary of this inspirational gynecologist is celebrated on 10th July 2018. May his memory inspire many generations to come!

  1. Biographies. In O’Dowd MJ, Philipp EE, editors. The History of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1st ed. Lancs: Parthenon Publishing Group 2000; pp. 644-5
  2. Instruments. In Parulekar SV. Practical Gynecology and Obstetrics. 5th ed. Mumbai: Vora Medical Publications; 2011. pp 30.
  3. Archives and record management. Mount Sinai Medical Centre. Available from:
  4. Obituary. Br Med J. 1958 Jul 19; 2(5089): 168. Available from:

Prasad M. Remembering past greats: Isidor Clinton Rubin. JPGO 2018. Volume 5 No.7. Available from: