Former Medical School Dean Harvey Colten Dies


Former Medical School Dean Harvey Colten Dies

Dr. Harvey ColtenHarvey R. Colten, MD, who served as medical school dean and vice president for medical affairs at Northwestern University from 1997–99, died May 24 at New York Presbyterian Hospital of complications from colon cancer. He was 68.

A native of Houston, Dr. Colten received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his MD degree from Case Western Reserve University. After clinical training and two years’ service in the U. S. Public Health Service, he spent five years at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) before joining Harvard Medical School in 1970. During his 16 years at Harvard, he was chief of the pediatric allergy division as well as chief of pediatric cell biology and pulmonary. In 1986 he joined Washington University as chair of the pediatrics department; he also served as pediatrician in chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Chilren’s Hospital.

Supported by NIH grants, Dr. Colten led a team of researchers who found a genetic link to a form of respiratory failure in newborns. He also played a role in advances in the care and treatment of cystic fibrosis and other respiratory diseases in children. Dr. Colten’s research extended to the understanding of the immune system and the body’s inflammatory responses. He conducted revolutionary studies on DNA and the immune system, and as a result, he was able to identify genetic changes and deficiencies associated with autoimmune diseases. He trained more than 60 investigators in pediatric allergy/immunology, pulmonology, and other disciplines.

During his tenure at Northwestern, Dr. Colten helped lead the expansion of research programs. University President Henry S. Bienen noted in August 1999, “Harvey Colten has helped provide vision and energy for the future of Northwestern’s medical school. We appreciate all he has done to help us refine the University’s goals and set new standards for the medical school.”

In 2002 he joined Columbia University Medical Center as vice president and senior associate dean of academic affairs.

Dr. Colten served on the editorial boards of 18 leading medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Biomedical Science, and Proceedings of the Association of American Physicians. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among his many honors, he received the E. Mead Johnson Award for Pediatric Research, an NIH MERIT award, and honorary membership in the Hungarian Society of Immunology.

Survivors include wife Susan, daughters Jennifer Schmidt and Lora, son Charles, father Oscar, brother Richard, sister Faith Fiore, and six grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, 1 Children’s Place, St. Louis, MO 63110.

Posted May 30, 2007

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