November 9, 2001

Robinson recognized by Nephrology society

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Dr. Roscoe “Ike” Robinson

Robinson recognized by Nephrology society

Dr. Roscoe R. “Ike” Robinson, professor of Medicine and vice chancellor for Health Affairs Emeritus, received the Jean Hamburger Award from the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) in October at the First World Congress of Nephrology in San Francisco.

The Hamburger Award, the Society’s most prestigious prize, goes every other year to someone with a long history of contributions to nephrology. Robinson, a former president of the ISN and of the American Society of Nephrology, co-won the award with Dr. Anita Aperia, a member of the Nobel Committee.

“I was flattered (to receive the award), because there are so many people who are equally or much more deserving than I am,” Robinson said.

A 40-year career comes with a lot of stories. They start in Oklahoma, when Robinson was a senior medical student, with “a remarkable man, a general internist with a huge practice in a tiny town on the bank of the Cimmaron River, who had a huge library.” His medical preceptor, Dr. Leon Freed, introduced Robinson to the writings of Dr. Homer Smith, a famed renal physiologist who had delivered a series of landmark lectures at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, and that fueled his interest in the kidney.

Robinson established a nephrology division at Duke University Medical Center in 1962. In 1972 he was asked to launch a new journal, Kidney International, now universally recognized as the authoritative publication of renal research, which he edited for 13 years.

Last year, Robinson compiled a 100-page history of the ISN.

In an introduction at the award ceremony, Dr. Thomas Andreoli, professor and chair of Internal Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences extolled his mentor’s accomplishments. “Very few people have made contributions to international nephrology that have been as towering as Ike’s….There is a common thread linking these contributions, and indeed, all of Ike’s career, namely the innate goodness and humanity of the man.”

Robinson’s accomplishments during his 17 years at Vanderbilt also were noted, namely the construction of several buildings (the Ann and Roscoe R. Robinson Medical Research Building, the Preston Research Building, the Eskind Biomedical Library among them), a six-fold increase in awarded grants and contracts and the growth of faculty from 450 to approximately 1,000.

“I think it’s true that nephrology has been a great enjoyment for me, whether it has been working in the research laboratory, or taking care of patients, or teaching or editing or administration,” Robinson said. “I had a great run at Duke, and it’s given me great pleasure to watch Vanderbilt’s nephrology develop so well, under Dr. Harry Jacobson (past chief of Nephrology and Robinson’s successor and current vice chancellor for Health Affairs), Dr. Steve Hebert and now under Dr. Ray Harris (current chief of the Division of Nephrology).”

Robinson accepted the award with a sense of humility and perhaps, having his career lauded, a bit of emotion. “It’s not given all that frequently, and it is their most prestigious award. I was touched by that, and I really do mean it.”