Lives of the fellows

Rudolf Schmid

b.2 May 1922 d.20 October 2007
MD Zurich(1947) PhD Minnesota(1954) FRCP(1988)

Rudi Schmid was a liver specialist and a pioneer in liver transplantation. He was born in Glarus, Switzerland, the son of Rudolf Schmid and Bertha Schmid-Scheisser, both general practitioners. He grew up to be an expert skier and member of the Swiss national team. He also became president of the Academic Alpine Club, an elite group of climbers. He studied medicine at the University of Zurich, receiving his MD in 1947. Soon afterwards he left Switzerland to climb mountains in South America.

In 1948 he began an internship at the University of California, San Francisco. He was there for a year before joining a residency programme at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He later taught at Harvard Medical School and the University of Chicago School of Medicine. He then returned to University of California, San Francisco, eventually becoming director of the division of gastroenterology and founder of the liver centre. From 1983 to 1989 he was dean and then associate dean for international relations.

His academic medical career was launched when he created an animal model of porphyria. He presented this study to the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) in 1952; it earned a PhD in 1954. He also proved that ‘direct-reacting’ bilirubin was a glucuronide conjugate.

He was elected to the Swiss Academy of Medical Science and the German Academy of Natural Sciences. He was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He became the 15th president of AASLD and also trained eight other future presidents.

He retired in 1995 and died at home in Kentfield, California, from pulmonary failure. He is survived by his Swiss wife, Sonja Wild, whom he married in 1949 and by a son, Peter, and by a daughter, Isabelle Franzen of Cape Town.

Rudi and Alick Bearn [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] were good friends in the American liver world. They had similar pleasing, extrovert personalities and made no enemies. Had they known that they were joining Munk’s Roll together they would have linked arms and made a little jig on their way to the Roll. And then they would have looked around for new members of this erudite, highly select club.

D Geraint James

[San Francisco Chronicle 3 November 2007; New York Times 19 November 2007; Los Angeles Times 22 November 2007]

(Volume XII, page web)

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