Dr. Joseph Clarence Hinsey (1901-1981) was born in Ottumwa, Iowa. Hinsey attended Northwestern University, receiving a B.S. (1922) and an M.S. (1923) in biology. He then studied neuroanatomy at Washington University from 1924-1927. At Washington University, the chairman of his committee was Stephen Walter Ranson, with Nobel Laureates Herbert Gasser and Joseph Erlanger representing his minors in physiology and pharmacology. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1927, Hinsey spent one year teaching at Washington University before moving to other academic and administrative posts at Northwestern and Stanford University.
In 1936, Hinsey served as Professor of Physiology and Chairman of the Department at Cornell University Medical College. He would later serve as Dean of the medical school from 1941-1953. Hinsey was then Director of the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center from 1953-1966. Among his many accomplishments was his work on improving medical education. He helped to found the Association of American Medical Colleges and served as its president in 1950.