Lives of the fellows

John Arthur Luetscher

b.30 August 1913 d.30 January 2005
AB Princeton(1933) MD Johns Hopkins(1937) FRCP(1973)

John A Luetscher, junior, was on the faculty of the school of medicine at Stanford, California, for more than 40 years, and helped develop the institution as a world-renowned centre for scientific research. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of John A Luetscher, a family practice physician, and Charlotte Elizabeth née Tumbleson. Luetscher graduated from Princeton University and in 1937 received his MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the same school his father attended.

After two years at Harvard Medical School as a research fellow in the department of physical chemistry, Luetscher returned to Johns Hopkins, where he finished his clinical training in internal medicine in 1942. He then served there as a faculty member in the department of medicine. In 1948 he accepted a position as an associate professor of medicine at Stanford and during the next 40 years participated not only in the move from an antiquated facility at Webster and Clay Streets in San Francisco to the present medical complex, but also in the monumental growth of research and patient care. He was chief of endocrinology at Stanford for over 25 years.

His research focused on hypertension. He was one of the first to identify the presence of the adrenal hormone aldosterone, which is critical to salt and water balance, and an important factor in controlling blood pressure.

A member of many professional associations, he served as president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 1959. He received many awards, including the Mayo Soley award of the Western Society for Clinical Research (1968), the CIBA award, Council for High Blood Pressure Research, American Heart Association (1977), and the Robert Tigerstedt award from the American Society of Hypertension in 1988 for his research leading to the discovery of aldosterone and more recent work which revealed the existence and characterised the properties of circulating prorenin.

Although appointed as a medical school emeritus professor in March 1984, he continued medical research with grants from the National Institutes of Health at Stanford until the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged his research office beyond repair. He finally retired in 1990.

Luetscher's wife, Genevieve, predeceased him. He is survived by two sons, a daughter-in-law, two granddaughters, and three great-grandchildren. He died in Sacramento, California.

Buck and Sue Luetscher

(Volume XII, page web)

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