Abraham Rudolph To Receive Howland Medal For Contributions To The Advancement Of Pediatrics

April 30, 1999

The John Howland Medal of the American Pediatric Society will be presented on Sunday, May 2, to Abraham M. Rudolph, MD, emeritus chairman of pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco and senior staff member of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at UCSF. The award will be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in San Francisco.

"The Howland Medal is the highest honor in American pediatrics," said Larry Shapiro, MD, chairman of pediatrics at UCSF, who will deliver the presentation speech at the awards ceremony. "This award honors those whose contributions to pediatrics have aided its advancement. Abe Rudolph is eminently deserving of that honor. He has been a leader in improving our knowledge of the fetal and newborn heart; he has made national and international contributions to many aspects of pediatrics, and he has trained generations of clinicians and investigators in pediatric cardiology."

Rudolph's great intellectual contribution has been the application of physiology to congenital heart disease, according to UCSF pediatrics professor Michael Heymann, MD. "He realized that it was not enough to identify a malformation, for example a hole in the heart - you had to understand the effect that it would have on the circulation and on the development of the heart," Heymann said.

By studying lambs in utero and after birth, Rudolph and his colleagues advanced physicians' understanding of normal and abnormal heart development in newborn humans. They pioneered the use of radionuclide microspheres to find how blood flow is directed in the fetal heart and circulatory system, and how that circulation changes at birth. The knowledge and techniques developed during this research now help physicians diagnose and treat congenital heart defects.

Among the most well-known accomplishments was the discovery by Heymann and Rudolph that an aspirin-like drug could be used instead of surgery to close the ductus arteriosus, a passageway between the pulmonary artery and the aorta that normally closes after birth to allow normal blood flow between the heart and the lungs.

Rudolph was born February 3, 1924 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He earned his medical degree in 1946 at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He completed a research fellowship in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in 1951-53 and served on the faculty at Harvard and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine before coming to UCSF in 1966 as professor of pediatrics, chief of the division of pediatric cardiology and senior staff member of the UCSF Cardiovascular Research Institute. From 1986-91, he served as chair of the UCSF department of pediatrics.

Since taking emeritus status in 1994, Rudolph has continued with teaching activities as well as research on ways that the fetal heart and circulatory system adapt at birth. He currently is editing the 21st edition of the pediatrics textbook that he has edited since 1977; since 1991 it has been called Rudolph's Pediatrics.

Rudolph is a member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. He is past president of the American Pediatric Society and a leader in other pediatric and research societies. He has received many honors, including the E. Mead Johnson and Borden Awards for Research in Pediatrics, the Research Achievement Award of the American Heart Association, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Joseph St. Geme Leadership Award of the Federation of Pediatric Societies, the Arvo Yllpo Award in Helsinki, Finland and the Joxis Medal in Groningen, Holland. In 1978 he served as UCSF Faculty Research Lecturer. In 1996 he was named Professor Honoris Causa of the Rene Descartes University, a degree presented at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Shortly after accepting the Howland Medal, Rudolph will fly to Sweden to receive the Nils Rosen von Rosenstein Medal, named after the author of one of the first textbooks on pediatrics.

Two other UCSF faculty members have received the John Howland Medal. Professor emeritus Louis K. Diamond, MD, a pediatric hematologist, received the medal in 1973. Professor emeritus Melvin Grumbach, MD, former chair of pediatrics and former chief of pediatric endocrinology, was honored with the award in 1997.

University of California - San Francisco

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