Lynch is credited with discovering the first treatment for Granuloma inguinale, a venereal disease characterized by ulcerations of the skin of the external genitals.

Physician, educator. Lynch was born in Hamilton County, Texas, on November 27, 1887, the son of William Warner Lynch and Martha Miller. After graduating from the University of Texas with an M.D. in 1910, he obtained a residency in pathology at the Philadelphia General Hospital. There he initiated routine microscopic examinations and uncovered an undiagnosed cancer of the lung, beginning a lifelong research interest. In 1913 Lynch moved to South Carolina and became the first professor of pathology at the Medical College of the State of South Carolina and the first full-time pathologist in the state. In January 1914 Lynch married Juanita Kirk from Amarillo, Texas, with whom he would have two children. He later married Lyall Wannamaker of Orangeburg, South Carolina, with whom he also had two children. After service in World War I and a five-year private practice in Dallas, Texas, Lynch returned to South Carolina and the faculty of the Medical College.

Lynch is credited with discovering the first treatment for Granuloma inguinale, a venereal disease characterized by ulcerations of the skin of the external genitals. Lynch’s exhibit on the subject was awarded a gold medal by the American Medical Association in 1921. In 1930 he published Protozoan Parasitism of the Alimentary Tract, which was based on his research related to the in vitro culturing of a parasite flagellate, Trichomonas hominis. For this research he was awarded the research medal of the Southern Medical Association (1921), honorable mention in the exhibits of the American Medical Association (1923), and an honorary LL.D. degree from the University of South Carolina (1930). Lynch was a pioneer in the field of industrial dust diseases; he reported the first recorded case of cancer of the lung associated with asbestosis (1935) and published the first full description of kaolinosis (1954), a chronic fibrous reaction in the lungs caused by inhaling kaolin dust. In 1934 he was selected the American editor of the fifteenth edition of Green’s Manual of Pathology.

In 1943 Lynch became dean of the Medical College of the State of South Carolina. He had the board of trustees change his title to president in 1949. As president of the Medical College, Lynch initiated the concept of a medical center for South Carolina. His expansion program of 1944 called for advancement of medical education, construction of a clinic and hospital, enlargement of the clinical teaching staff, and opportunities for postgraduate work and research—all of which were ultimately achieved. Overcoming opposition from the Medical Society of South Carolina, Lynch oversaw construction of the Medical College Hospital, which was completed in 1955. Lynch’s leadership was not limited to the Medical College. He also held numerous positions in local, state, and national professional organizations related to medicine, including the pathology specialty. Lynch retired in 1960 and died November 29, 1974. He was buried in Sunnyside Cemetery, Orangeburg.

Biographical file. Waring Historical Library, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston.

Waring, Joseph I. A History of Medicine in South Carolina. Vol. 3, 1900–1970. Columbia: South Carolina Medical Association, 1971.

Worthington, W. Curtis, H. Rawling Pratt-Thomas, and Warren A. Sawyer. A Family Album: Men Who Made the Medical Center. Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company, 1991.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Lynch, Kenneth Merrill, Sr.
  • Author Jane McCutchen Brown
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date March 31, 2020
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • Original Published Date June 8, 2016
  • Date of Last Update May 2, 2017