December 21, 2006

Year in Review 2006: VUMC remembers friends, colleagues lost during year

Featured Image

Workers install the magnet core of a 7 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner in the Vanderbilt Institute of Imaging Science in June.
Photo by John Russell

Ben Alper, M.D., a 1949 graduate of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine who established the first rheumatology clinic at Vanderbilt in the basement of Medical Center North, died May 30 of a heart attack at his home. He was 79.

Dr. Alper, a clinical professor emeritus of Medicine at Vanderbilt, directed the rheumatology clinic for more than 20 years, and was responsible for training a number of rheumatologists. He was also a graduate of Vanderbilt University and did his internship and first year of residency at Vanderbilt from 1949 through 1951.

He and his wife, Phyllis, established the Ben J. Alper Chair in Rheumatology at Vanderbilt in 1995 for the support of research and clinical care in rheumatology.

Benjamin F. Byrd Jr., M.D., a founding member of the board of overseers for Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and a hometown champion for cancer prevention and research, died Dec. 7. He was 88.

Born and raised in Nashville, Dr. Byrd was a former clinical professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt and earned his B.A. here in 1938 and his M.D. in 1941. His father, the late B.F. Byrd, M.D., graduated from Vanderbilt Medical School in 1916 and practiced here for years. One of his sons, Benjamin Franklin Byrd III, M.D., is a professor of Medicine in the Vanderbilt Heart Institute.

Richard O. Cannon II, M.D., professor and director emeritus of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, died June 7 in Tyler, Texas, where he had lived since 2002. He was 87.

A 1943 graduate of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, he served his residency and became chief resident in obstetrics/gynecology at Vanderbilt Hospital. In 1950, he was appointed assistant director of Vanderbilt Hospital, and served as director from 1955-1972. He was Dean of Allied Health Professions at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine from 1972 until 1983, when he retired.

David Garbers, Ph.D., a member of the Vanderbilt faculty from 1974 to 1990, died Sept. 5 in Dallas, where he was professor of Pharmacology and director of the Cecil H. and Ida Green Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He was 62.

Dr. Garbers was an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for more than 30 years, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research explored the fundamental mechanics of fertilization and the properties of sperm and eggs.

Laurence A. Grossman, M.D., clinical professor of Medicine in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine since 1966, died March 1 after collapsing at his home.

Dr. Grossman, 89, an internal medicine and cardiovascular disease specialist, was the first physician in Nashville to fully integrate his medical practice and his staff.

An alumnus of Vanderbilt University and the School of Medicine, Dr. Grossman held teaching appointments at Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt and also helped establish Saint Thomas Health Services.

Tom Hazinski, M.D., who built Vanderbilt's Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine from scratch and served as associate dean for Faculty Affairs, died in January from sudden cardiac arrest at his home. He was 57. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Mary Fran Hazinski, R.N., M.S.N., a clinical nurse specialist in pediatric emergency and critical care at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, a son, Michael, 24, and other family members.

His career at Vanderbilt was multi-faceted. In addition to directing the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, he and Nancy Brown, M.D., Robert H. Williams Professor of Medicine, began Vanderbilt's Master of Science in Clinical Investigation program.

T. Mark Hodges, director of the Medical Center Library from 1972 until 1995, died April 2 at his home. He was 72.

Mr. Hodges, a native of Sheffield, England, came to Vanderbilt in 1972 as director of the Medical Center Library, through the years overseeing its growth and transitions, culminating in the library's move to the Annette and Irwin Eskind Biomedical Library building in 1994.

An outstanding writer and teacher, Vanderbilt alumnus Robert Merrill, M.D., died Jan. 11 in Salado, Texas, at age 80 due to complications from acute leukemia.

Dr. Merrill completed his postgraduate training and fellowship appointments at Vanderbilt from 1949-1955 and became an instructor in Pediatrics in 1957.

He rose to associate professor of Pediatrics before leaving in 1966 to accept a position at the University of Virginia devoted to rehabilitation. He subsequently held appointments in several pediatric departments before accepting a position as associate editor of the Journal of Pediatrics in 1977.

Sol A. Rosenblum, M.D., a longtime Vanderbilt physician with a reputation for dedication to patient care, died July 30 at his home in Nashville at age 80.

Rosenblum, who opened a clinical practice in the Medical Arts Building in 1955 with older brother Marvin Jonas Rosenblum, M.D., made many contributions to the field of medicine while working as a practicing physician at Vanderbilt.

Hired as a clinical instructor at Vanderbilt on July 1, 1960, Dr. Rosenblum was later named as an assistant clinical professor (1992) and associate clinical professor (2000).

Norman E. Shumway, M.D., Ph.D., the 1949 Vanderbilt University School of Medicine alumnus who performed the first human heart transplant in the United States, died of cancer on Feb. 10 at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 83.

Dr. Shumway and his surgical team at Stanford performed the first transplant in 1968. Thirteen years later he performed the first heart-lung transplant. Today, the procedure is performed more than 2,000 times a year in the United States — 2,016 in 2004 — and as of July 15, 2005, the one-year survival rate was 86.4 percent for males and 84.6 percent for females.

Dr. Shumway joined the faculty at Stanford in 1958, where he began his studies on cardiac transplantation. He remained there his entire career. He also pioneered a procedure for correcting birth defects through bypass surgery and developed techniques for total surgical correction of “blue baby” heart defects.

Grant Wilkinson, Ph.D., D.Sc., professor of Pharmacology, emeritus, died June 13 at his home in Nashville after a prolonged illness. He was 64.

Dr. Wilkinson was widely known for his contributions to understanding why patients vary in their response to drugs. His research papers are among the most frequently cited by pharmacologists worldwide.

“Grant was a true scientist and totally committed to both his science and to Vanderbilt University,” said Jason Morrow, M.D., director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology.

“He pioneered many of the modern theories regarding drug metabolism that turned out to be truths.”

In 2002, Dr. Wilkinson, a native of Derby, England, was awarded a D.Sc. degree by the University of Manchester in recognition of “published work of high distinction.”

Last year he was honored at Vanderbilt with the establishment of a Distinguished Lectureship in Clinical Pharmacology in his name.