CASSELS, JOHN LANG (15 Sept. 1808-11 June 1879), a founder of Cleveland Medical College, now the medical school of CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, attended the University of Glasgow (1824-26), and emigrated to Utica, N.Y. in 1827. He enrolled at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of the Western District of the State of New York in 1831, meeting Dr. JOHN DELAMATER, and receiving his medical degree in 1834. He taught anatomy, chemistry, geology, mineralogy, and botany. In the 1830s, Cassels became a professor at Willoughby Medical College until 1843, resigning to establish, with Delamater, HORACE ACKLEY, and JARED POTTER KIRTLAND, the Cleveland Medical College under the charter of Western Reserve University. Cassels taught chemistry, pharmacy, materia medica, toxicology, and botany there for 30 years and was also dean.
Cassels studied chemistry, concentrating on toxicology, often serving as an expert witness at criminal trials. He also studied food and water, checking Lake Erie water for purity. Cassels was also a geologist employed by Cleveland industrialists to explore for deposits, and in 1846 claimed large deposits of iron ore on the southern shore of Lake Superior. Known as Cleveland Mountain, this provided the city with the ore necessary to begin its iron and steel industries.
Cassels lectured and published many articles. He never practiced medicine privately in Cleveland. Suffering a stroke in 1873, Cassels retired and was made professor emeritus of WRU. He was married in 1838 to Cornelia Olin of Vermont; they had 1 daughter.