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Pioneering nephrologist William Stone mourned

May. 12, 2020, 3:24 PM


by Bill Snyder

William J. Stone, MD, nephrologist and professor of Medicine, emeritus, who retired in December after 50 years as a member of the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, died Monday, May 11, at his home in Nashville. He was 83.

William J. Stone, MD

Dr. Stone also served for 45 years as chief of the Nephrology Section at the Nashville Veterans Affairs Medical Center, part of the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System. He is credited with starting the first home-based and in-center dialysis treatments in Tennessee in the 1970s.

“Dr. Stone was an icon of clinical focus and attention to training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center,” said W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry and interim chair of the Department of Medicine.

“He represented the best of what we are as academic physicians, insatiably curious and unfailingly committed to house staff training,” Rathmell said. “It is special and relevant to note that he was on a Zoom (video conference) call in the last week with residents and fellows.”

“Dr. Stone was a great clinician, an astute teacher and educator and a fearless patient advocate,” added T. Alp Ikizler, MD, director of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension and Catherine McLaughlin Hakim Professor of Vascular Biology.

A native of Washington, D.C., Dr. Stone was an honors graduate of Princeton University and earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

After fellowship training at Cornell University Medical Center, he entered military service during the Vietnam War, serving as Major in the U.S. Army and Medical Officer at the 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon from 1968-1969.

Upon discharge from the service, Dr. Stone came to Nashville in 1969 as assistant professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt and clinical investigator at the Nashville VA. He was named chief of Nephrology in 1972.

In February the Nashville VA renamed its dialysis unit in honor of Dr. Stone in recognition of his pioneering management of acute and chronic kidney disease using dialysis.

In a joint statement, longtime colleagues Raymond Harris, MD, director of the Vanderbilt O’Brien Kidney Center, and Roy Zent, MD, PhD, vice chair for Research in the Department of Medicine, said Dr. Stone was “the consummate clinician and teacher, and a role model and mentor to generations of Vanderbilt trainees.

“He will be sorely missed.”

A prolific researcher, Dr. Stone contributed significantly to the basic understanding of the pathophysiology and complications of advanced kidney disease.

“He had a brilliant investigative mind and a keen awareness of unique cases that could be a window into a deep understanding of the cause of disease,” said Billy Hudson, PhD, the Elliot V. Newman Professor of Medicine.

“The world is a better place because Bill Stone traveled here,” Hudson said.

In his spare time Dr. Stone was an avid composer of limericks, with five published volumes of Medical Limericks to his credit.

Burial will be Friday, May 15, at the Middle Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery in Nashville. Survivors include his wife of 46 years, Elizabeth “Libby” Stone, three children and four grandchildren.

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