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Ralph T. Behling, MD

Ralph T. Behling, MD

Ralph T. Behling, MD ’43, BS ’40

Dr. Behling earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from UB in 1940 and completed medical school in three years as the result of a directive from the U.S. government, which was in a hurry to train doctors for the war effort. During his internship at Buffalo General Hospital, Dr. Behling was introduced to penicillin, which he used to help combat an outbreak of syphilis in Erie County. Dr. Behling completed his residency at E.J. Meyer Memorial Hospital, the predecessor to the Erie County Medical Center, where he treated patients in the hospital’s varicose vein, syphilis and outpatient dermatology clinics. It was at E.J. Meyer that Behling met his future wife, Rita M. Clancy, a 1940 graduate ofUB’s School of Nursing, who was head nurse on the hospital’s psychiatric ward.

Following the residency, Dr. Behling worked for the U.S. Public Health Service, during which he was allotted $1 million to help standardize cancer treatment nationwide. He went to California, where he started tumor clinics in major hospitals and introduced the Pap smear to the western United States. Since that time, the test has become a standard procedure worldwide for detecting and preventing cervical and uterine cancer.

In 1950, Dr. Behling resigned from the Public Health Service to begin a private practice in dermatology and to teach at the University of California/San Francisco School of Medicine. He remained in California and ran the San Mateo County venereal disease clinic for many years. Retiring from medicine in 1984, Dr. Behling became involved in the real estate business. His wife, Rita, died in 1998, and he married Eileen in 1999. Between them, they have 10 children, all over age 40. His civic activities include the Kiwanis Club, the Masons and the Chamber of Commerce. He is on the board of directors of the local Salvation Army, sings in a barbershop quartet and is a tenor in his church choir.