Jacob da Silva Solis Cohen was born in New York on 28 February
1838. He was the eldest son of Myer David and Judith Simirah
da Silva Solis Cohen. The Cohens moved to Philadelphia in 1840.
J. Solis Cohen married Miriam Binswanger on 10 February 1874.
They had nine children. Cohen died in Philadelphia on 22 December
Cohen attended lectures at Jefferson Medical College (1857-1858),
then travelled to Memphis, Tennessee. Upon his return to Philadelphia,
he entered the University of Pennsylvania and received his M.D.
in 1860. He served a brief residency at the Pennsylvania Hospital,
but resigned due to the Civil War. During the war, Cohen served
as Assistant Surgeon to the 26th Pennsylvania Regiment (1861), Acting
Assistant Surgeon to the United States Navy (18611864), and,
finally, Visiting Surgeon to army hospitals in Philadelphia
until the war's end.
In 1866, Cohen opened his private practice in Philadelphia; he
concentrated on diseases of the throat and chest. In 1867,
he became the first American to perform a successful laryngotomy
for removal of a cancerous growth, although he opposed this
operation because of its high risks. Cohen also performed the
first closed field laryngotomy in 1892. He had a strong interest
in tuberculosis as well and was a vigorous supporter of Edward
Livingstone's work at Saranac.
In 1866, Cohen established regularly organized lectures in laryngology
at the Philadelphia School of Anatomy. In the following year,
he assumed the post of Lecturer in Electrotherapeutics at Jefferson
Medical College, then became Lecturer in Laryngoscopy and Diseases
of the Chest in 1869. In 1882, Cohen helped to establish the
Philadelphia Polyclinic and College for Graduates in Medicine
and became Professor of Diseases of the Throat and Chest there.
He was also Professor of Physiology at the Wagner Free Institute
of Science, Visiting Physician to the German Hospital, Physician
to St. Mary's Hospital, and Consulting Physician to the Jewish
Hospital. An honorary professorship in laryngology was created
for J. Solis Cohen at Jefferson in 1890-1891. By 1895, he had
virtually retired from teaching.
Cohen published several works including Inhalation: its therapeutics
and practice (1867); Diseases of the throat (1872
and revised as Diseases of the throat and nasal passages
in 1879); Croup and its relation to tracheotomy (1874);
and The throat and the voice (1879).
His professional activities and affiliations were numerous.
He helped to establish the American Laryngological Association
in 1878, served as President from 1880 to 1882, and edited Archives
of laryngology in 1880. He was also president of the Northern
Medical Association (1875) and the Philadelphia County Medical
Society (1887-1888). He became a Fellow of the College of Physicians
of Philadelphia in 1871, but failure to pay the annual dues
caused him to forfeit his fellowship in 1904.