January 20, 2023

Vanderbilt mourns loss of ASAP co-founder Murray

John Joseph Murray V, MD, PhD, a co-founder of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Asthma, Sinus and Allergy Program (ASAP), died on Jan. 6 at Vanderbilt University Hospital.

John Joseph Murray V, MD, PhD

by Nancy Humphrey

John Joseph Murray V, MD, PhD, a co-founder of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Asthma, Sinus and Allergy Program (ASAP), died on Jan. 6 at Vanderbilt University Hospital. He was 71.

A full-time member of the Vanderbilt University faculty until 2006 when he was recruited to Nashville General Hospital at Meharry, Dr. Murray’s basic and clinical research efforts were dedicated to the development of novel targets and improved treatments for allergic diseases, sinusitis and asthma.

In 1998 he established the Elizabeth and John Murray Chair in Medicine at Vanderbilt in honor of his parents. The chair is currently held by R. Stokes Peebles, MD, in the Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

Peebles first met Dr. Murray when Dr. Murray was chief resident in Medicine at Vanderbilt in the early 1980s.

“John was a brilliant scientist and physician. At that time, I was impressed that he seemed to know absolutely everything about internal medicine. As a faculty member, he had a great talent to design studies that provided important insights into asthma pathophysiology,” Peebles said.

At Meharry Dr. Murray was director of the Clinical Research Center, the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation and the Cancer Clinical Trials Office. In addition to being a reviewer for multiple organizations including National Institutes of Health study sections, he was associate editor of Lipids and the Journal of Allergy and Therapy.

His colleagues say that Dr. Murray cared deeply about his patients and served as a mentor to medical students, postdoctoral research fellows and junior faculty. He had a vibrant academic career that resulted in more than 150 original scientific articles.

Dr. Murray, who earned his undergraduate degree in 1973 from Harvard and his medical and PhD degrees in 1979 from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, completed his Internal Medicine residency at Vanderbilt. He served a fellowship in clinical pharmacology at Vanderbilt, receiving several postdoctoral research fellowship awards. Subsequently, he left for a fellowship in allergy and immunology at Duke University, then returned to VUMC in 1987 as a faculty member in the Divisions of Clinical Pharmacology and Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

In 1997 Dr. Murray, along with Bobo Tanner, MD, James Duncavage, MD, and James Bracikowski, MD, co-founded Vanderbilt’s ASAP clinic, which housed asthma, sinus and allergy specialties under one roof to provide unique, convenient and comprehensive patient-centered care. It was the first clinic at Vanderbilt to implement an electronic medical record, the use of nurse practitioners in frontline specialty care and collaborative care involving allergy, otolaryngology, radiology and pulmonary. He worked to successfully integrate a “prolific and unmatched” clinical research program into the ASAP clinic with new drug development in virtually every aspect of care of ASAP patients, said Tanner, assistant professor of Medicine.

“When he returned to Vanderbilt, he brought a fresh vision to the allergy division with an expanded laboratory and clinical research effort. Furthermore, he completely reimagined the delivery of allergy care to patients at Vanderbilt,” Tanner said.

“Dr. Murray achieved a lasting impact on the students, residents, fellows and doctoral students that he mentored throughout his career at Vanderbilt. Most of all, his forward thinking set the standard for constantly embracing change and improvements in patient care that is the envy of many,” Tanner said.

Robert Miller, MD, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Medicine, was an intern when Dr. Murray was chief resident.

“I think that the two of us were the first to occupy 8 North each morning during my Vanderbilt Hospital rotations. John was chief resident in Medicine and seemed larger than life to me. He knew so much clinical medicine and basic science. He was a skilled educator and department leader. John had a big impact at Vanderbilt, and more recently at Nashville General Hospital. Everyone that I have encountered at the General spoke about how much they will miss him.”

Dr. Murray was preceded in death by his parents and sister Joan. In addition to his wife, Katherine Thompson Murray, MD, professor of Medicine in the Divisions of Clinical Pharmacology and Cardiovascular Medicine, he is survived by his children, John Joseph Murray VI and Katherine Murray (William) Ratliff, grandson Thompson Joseph Ratliff, and his siblings — Eleanor, Elizabeth, Thomas, Mary, Joseph and Edmond — along with five nephews and 11 nieces.

Services will be held in Massachusetts in the spring. Updated information will be available on the Marshall-Donnelly-Combs website. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Shade Tree Clinic at Vanderbilt and The Branch of Nashville food bank.