Chester B (Bart) Martin, MD was born in North Carolina in 1933, and died at the age of 80 in Madison, Wisconsin, on May 26, 2013. He was a major contributor to the pioneering development of fetal and placental physiology, and their clinical translation, and had a fruitful academic career with international associations.
He graduated with Honours in Zoology at Cornell, and obtained his MD at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958. His Obstetrics and Gynecology residency was at the University Hospitals of Cleveland, Ohio, after which he did a fellowship at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, and at Johns Hopkins.
His academic career spanned many institutions, beginning at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, in 1965. He moved to the Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center in 1969 where he continued his research in fetal physiology, with a particularly fruitful collaboration with Yuji Murata. During a sabbatical at Sint Radboudziekenhuis, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, he was so attracted to the environment that he stayed on the academic staff until 1984, doing clinical and research mentoring. From 1985 to 1993 he was chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Madison, Wisconsin, after which he resumed clinical and teaching activities.
Perhaps his most striking research findings were at the Carnegie Institute in Washington where he collaborated with the great placental anatomist Dr Elizabeth Ramsay during his Fellowship, and then as Visiting Investigator until 1971. We take for granted today the knowledge of the primate circulation, but the definitive work was done at Carnegie, both anatomic structure and blood flow patterns. These were described in a series of papers and in Yearbooks of the Carnegie Institution, written or coauthored by Bart. One unique aspect was the use of cineradiography to characterize the flows on both the maternal and fetal sides of the placenta. Dr Ramsay’s cross sectional drawing of the primate placenta, arising from these studies, has been copied and modified by many, but never bettered.
Another major aspect of his research was collaboration with Drs Hans Precthl (a Dutch pediatrician) and Jan Nijhuis in describing behavioural states in the human fetus. Their classic work served as the basis for numerous following studies, and in clinical obstetrics.
His research further included early use of diagnostic ultrasound, development of a chronically catheterized fetal monkey, and the mechanisms of features of fetal heart rate patterns.
Bart was an avid teacher at all levels, and much of this consisted of research mentorship with post-doctoral collaborators. In addition he was enthusiastically involved in resident guidance; I was one of his mentees while a resident at LAC/USC.
Administratively he was active at all stages of his career, culmination in his chairmanship at Madison. He continued teaching when he became emeritus professor in 1998. This semi-retirement also gave him more time for one of his favourite pastimes of birding, an enthusiasm he at times shared with his wife Barbara.
Reviewing Bart’s life and my numerous associations with him over the years has reinforced to me that our current research and clinical knowledge rely heavily on many of the pioneers, and their monumental contributions. Bart was one such person.
J T Parer, MD, PhD 7.10.2013
It is with great sadness that we announce that Dr. Thomas McDonald passed away the night of Friday June 14th. He suffered a stroke after Thanksgiving last year and a second stroke later. He bore with both fortitude and strength. In the last weeks, he was in a Hospice with very little power of movement.
Tom was born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts. After graduating from High School, he served as a paratrooper in Vietnam. He obtained his B.S. in Zoology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and his Master’s Degree from Cornell University. His Ph.D., also from Cornell, was the first study to show that the fetal brain initiates the signals to promote labor and delivery. This was an outstanding and unique scientific contribution and it will stand as a landmark achievement.
Dr. McDonald was an Associate Professor in the Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio which he joined in 2004. He also held Adjunct appointments at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Wyoming. He had previously been on the Faculty of Cornell University, Ithaca New York and New York University.
Tom McDonald was a highly accomplished researcher with a gift for overcoming practical problems; honed in the years he ran the undergraduate physiology laboratories at Cornell. He published over 80 papers making distinctive contributions to the neuroendocrinology of the developing fetus, uterine contractility, placental function and fetal brain development. He was one of the first into the field of development programming seeking to determine how the maternal environment affects the long-term health of the offspring.
Tom was a devoted family man. He was married to Marie for 45 years and she was a wonderful partner in all they did together. They raised three intelligent, creative and loyal children – Mark, Hedy and Jill. Tom was a doting grandfather to Olivia and Sylas.
Tom was the friend every one of us wants to have – committed, selfless, loyal and passionate in everything he did. He was truly the “Thousandth Man” of Kipling’s poem. His years as a swimmer and tri-athlete, activities in which he often came first in his class, highlight the attributes he had as both a competitor and the ultimate team player. He was steadfast and true, always at your side. One letter sent following his death said: No one could want a greater ally and friend in any activity. He was a good man.”
At Cornell Tom mentored nearly 100 undergraduate research projects. He was always interested in helping the next generation. It is fitting that Marie and her family have asked that any donation made to celebrate Tom’s life should be sent to the Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research and then placed towards a Thomas McDonald Travel Fellowship available for graduate and postgraduate students from anywhere in the world to attend the Society for Gynecological Investigation, the leading Society in the field of pregnancy research world-wide. It was Tom’s intellectual home and he probably missed only one meeting in 25 years. The awardees would be students whose abstracts had been at the top of the list of all abstracts submitted. We would hope to make the first awards in January 2014 for the 2014 meeting.
You can send contributions in Tom’s name to Karen Moore, Center for Pregnancy and Research, Department of Obstetrics, UTHSCSA, Mail Code 7836, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900. Please indicate that the donation is towards the “Thomas McDonald Travel Fellowships.” Checks should be made payable to the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. Notification that the donations are tax-deductible will be provided.
Alternatively, you can make your contribution online at: https://makelivesbetter.uthscsa.edu/mcdonald
For additional information, please contact Karen Moore at 210 567 5050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A TRIBUTE TO PROFESSOR WALTER HERRMANN
Journal of Geneva Medical Association, September 2012
Professor Walter Herrmann, former Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Maternity of Geneva, passed away on August 16, 2012 in his 90th year, following an illness that he faced with courage and an exemplary lucidity.
Professor Herrmann did not want any funeral ceremony, but we want to honour him and describe in a few words his many talents and how he influenced the evolution of our medical specialty.
Walter Herrmann was born in 1923 in Berlin. In 1933, his provident father, left Germany to settle in Switzerland. It is in Basle and Ticino that Walter Herrmann continued his education. Subsequently, he obtained his medical degree from the University of Geneva and specialised in gynaecology and obstetrics in St. Gallen and Zürich.
In 1951 he went to the United States to continue his medical education in the prestigious universities of Harvard, Columbia and Yale, where he acquired an international reputation in his speciality of gynaecological endocrinology and sterility. Following his outstanding scientific career, he was appointed Professor and Chairman of the Department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He continued his research and teaching in a very challenging academic setting. In his free time, he enjoyed also the incredible diverse nature of the State of Washington.
In 1976 he was called to Geneva to take over the leadership of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Immediately upon his arrival, he began to reorganise and modernise the medical and scientific approach of the maternity hospital. He was surprised by the difficulty of this task because of local political constraints and sometimes-virulent protests by the MLF (women's liberation movement), particularly regarding the management of abortion. Despite all these obstacles, he successfully led the maternity hospital for 12 years with the help of the professors François Béguin and Felix Krauer and he organised and actively supported the development of links between the clinic and basic research with Professor Paul Bischof.
During this period, we were privileged to enjoy a high-quality education that prepared us for the practice of our specialty devoted to women’s health. Walter Herrmann’s insatiable intellectual curiosity and scientific rigour as well as its approach to ethics-related issues were a model for most of us.
At his departure from the University of Geneva, the first undersigned opened a private practice together with Professor Walter Herrmann and was privileged to benefit from his vast experience. He was a doctor unanimously appreciated by his patients for his clinical approach and his exceptional listening quality.
After his retirement, he chose to live in Grindelwald with his wife, Nicole. He was passionate by the observation of animals and nature, and fed with great pleasure deer and birds that came close to his chalet. As a versatile artist, he expressed himself through painting, sculpture and striking collages that were sometimes provocative.
We were many to visit him to share our opinions about the changes within our specialty and listen to the wisdom of his advice.
Seriously affected in his health since one year, he never gave up, tirelessly supported by his wife, who accompanied him until his last moments.
We will miss his intellectual acuity and warm-hearted humour. But we are conscious, as many other friends to have had the privilege and honour to share the friendship of this man and this outstanding physician.
We convey our deepest sympathy to his wife Nicole, his children and grandchildren in the USA.
Dr. Claudine Bach Brioschi
Dr. Evellyn Floris
Translation Prof. Paul Bischof
Professor David Lindsay Healy PhD, FRANZCOG, FRCOG (Ad Eundem), CREI
Born on 30 September 1948, Professor David Healy passed away too early on 25 May 2012. He will be dearly missed by the families of his children Ross and Meagan, his brother, sister and his other relatives, his patients, the staff he worked with, and all his colleagues.
Professor Healy graduated from Monash University where he received the Senior Medical Staff prize in 1973. In 1977, he was the first author on a Nature paper, only his third publication as a junior researcher. In 1979 he completed a PhD at Monash University on Human Prolactin Physiology. David then trained at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne and completed his Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialty training at the National Institutes of Health, USA, and at Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1985, Professor Healy was the first Obstetrician and Gynaecologist to be awarded a Welcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellowship.
David Healy became a Professor of the Monash University Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1990 and its Chairman in 1994. Between 1991 and 1994 he served as the Associate Clinical Dean of the Monash University Faculty of Medicine. He was the Head of the Reproductive Medicine Clinic from 1997. In 2002 Professor Healy became the Chair of the Australian University Departments of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College for his many achievements.
One of Professor Healy’s great qualities was his unwavering belief in young talent. On the many boards and conference organising committees in which he was involved he would always argue to make room for the new generation. He enjoyed teaching, supervising and mentoring the countless medical students and O&G trainees. Perhaps he also terrified a few in his role as Senior Examiner in Obstetrics and Gynaecology for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and for the Australian Medical Council. He was also the Director of Education of the Monash IVF Research and Education Foundation.
David also never stopped being an active researcher. He published 255 research articles, wrote 78 book chapters, and edited 8 books, the last one an impressive reference work on endometriosis co-edited by him, Linda Giudice and Hans Evers, Endometriosis: Science and Practice. But his academic legacy will certainly live on beyond university libraries. His tremendous passion for high-quality research rubbed off easily on others, and he was a source of enduring inspiration for many impressionable young minds. Students and staff enjoyed his open-door policy and down to earth attitude, and they were often surprised to find a witty raconteur in a relaxed moment.
He served on boards of many learned societies, both nationally and internationally, and was President of the Fertility Society of Australia in 1995. After his term on the board of the Australian Gynaecological Endoscopy Society (AGES), he accepted a position as chairman of the AGES Research Committee and, despite his illness, he continued to play a crucial role on the AGES Education Committee where he helped shape the laparoscopic fellowship syllabus.
While he served on the AGES board, he was also a committed member on the WES board. Bringing the 10th World Congress on Endometriosis to Melbourne in 2008 was a major coup for David. As always, David made sure ‘youngsters’ like Jim Tsaltas and I got to learn the ropes when he appointed us as scientific programme co-chairs. He was a wonderful mentor and always willing to listen to new ideas. The only thing he would not compromise on was scientific quality and a pre-congress golf tournament for the delegates. His leadership magic turned the WCE2008, hosted by AGES, into a huge success with more than a 1000 delegates.
The accolade he was most proud of was being elected in 2007 as President of the International Federation of Fertility Societies. It was the first time in the 60-year history of the IFFS and that of its sister organisation, FIGO, that an Australian headed either organisation. In an interview he said:
“While in many countries women such as Hillary Clinton exert a strong influence on the political process and can agitate for better health care, IFFS member countries also include those where issues of fertility – especially contraception and abortion – are taboo”.
He had high hopes to bring real change for women in particular from developing countries. He certainly would want us to continue on that path.
A/Professor, Monash University, Australia
eJournal Editor, World Endometriosis Society
A. Brian Little, M.D. Died on April 14th 2012 after a long illness
He was born in Montreal, March 11, 1925, into a prominent family. His Grandfather was a successful businessman and benefactor of the community. His Father, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist, was instrumental in founding the women's Pavilion at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. Unfortunately, he died prematurely at the age of 57 leaving his wife with three boys to raise. She became a writer for the Montreal Gazette and instilled a strong competence for the written word in Dr. Little. All of the boys served in the armed forces during WWII, but tragedy continued in the family as his two brothers were killed in the war. After completing his Service as a flying officer(navigator) in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Dr. Little returned to Montreal and graduated from McGill Medical School. Subsequently he did a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harvard Medical School.