August 2, 2012

Vanderbilt mourns loss of Friesinger

Gottlieb C. (Bud) Friesinger II, M.D., professor of Medicine, emeritus, and the first director of the Division of Cardiology, died July 28. He was 83.

Gottlieb C. (Bud) Friesinger II, M.D., professor of Medicine, emeritus, and the first director of the Division of Cardiology, died July 28. He was 83.

Gottlieb C. (Bud) Friesinger II, M.D.

He earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1955 where he also did his postgraduate training, including a year as the Osler Chief Resident. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha. He served as the regimental surgeon for the 5th Marines, and then remained at Johns Hopkins until coming to Vanderbilt in 1971 to be the director of the Division of Cardiology, a position he held until 1990. Dr. Friesinger remained on the faculty in an active role until 2002.

“Dr. Friesinger was a tremendous mentor, colleague and friend for so many,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “His contributions to cardiovascular medicine were substantial, and his national leadership helped advance our fundamental understanding of cardiovascular disease.

“And as a clinician, there are many thousands of Vanderbilt patients who benefited greatly from his expertise. Like others, I feel fortunate to have known and learned from Dr. Friesinger. The Vanderbilt community is deeply saddened by this loss,” Balser said.

Dr. Friesinger held endowed chairs at both Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt and was active in cardiovascular research as well as patient care and teaching. His research included studies of coronary arteriography, the hemodynamics of myocardial infarction and the development of nuclear medicine techniques to assess ventricular function. In 1957, he was the first to successfully use the Kouwenhoven defibrillator. He wrote more than 100 original publications in peer-reviewed journals and more than 25 textbook chapters, and edited two books.

“Dr. Friesinger always challenged us to think and to be better physicians and people. He was a supportive friend and mentor,” said Nancy Brown, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine.

Dr. Friesinger was a consultant to a number of national organizations including the National Institutes of Health, the Rand Corp., and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where he helped develop programs to foster minority faculty in academic medicine. He was a Master in both the American College of Physicians and the American College of Cardiology, and also a Distinguished Fellow of the ACC. He was on the editorial board of The Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Circulation.

For 21 years, he served on the Board of Trustees at Johns Hopkins University where he was a Presidential Counselor. He was a visiting professor and lecturer at many academic medical centers in the United States and Western Europe. He created and offered several courses at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Vanderbilt. At the time of his death, he was finishing a book on the long-term connections between Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt.

“Dr. Friesinger had a tremendous impact on many parts of Vanderbilt over his long career, and will be sorely missed,” said Doug Sawyer, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Cardiology. “He was tremendously thoughtful, not only about clinical medicine, but also the professional responsibilities of physicians in our society. He leaves behind a legacy of physicians who had the good fortune to learn from and be mentored by him.”

The Gottlieb C. Friesinger Society was created in 2000 by former cardiovascular medicine fellows who trained under him. Through the generosity of the Friesinger Society, an endowed chair in Cardiovascular Medicine was created in his name.

Dr. Friesinger is survived by his wife of 60 years, Janet Anderson Moorehead; children, Gretchen Friesinger Denison, Kristin Friesinger Wright, G. Christian Friesinger III, M.D., and Alison Friesinger; as well as six grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Aug. 18, at Benton Chapel on the Vanderbilt campus. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the charity of one’s choice.