University of Arizona College of Medicine (1960-1994)

In 1964 Merlin K. DuVal was recruited from the University of Oklahoma to be Dean of Arizona Medical School. He surveyed the several biology departments and found with the possible exception of microbiology, that none were interested in teaching basic sciences to medical students. At that point he began to plan for teaching basic sciences in the College of Medicine and hired Philip Krutzsch from the University of Pittsburgh as coordinator for basic sciences.

I received a call from Monte DuVal in early fall of 1966 and agreed to come out to look at the Headship of Physiology in the new Medical school. We had just returned to Indiana from a sabbatical leave at Cal Tech and were interested in possibly relocating to the Southwest. By the time this picture was taken here in Indianapolis, Genny and I had visited Tucson and I was considering an offer of the Headship here. In comparison to other places I had visited, I felt that Arizona had a sound plan- I liked the building- though in retrospect we were naive in thinking that additional building space would be forthcoming in the near term.

We made the decision to come to Tucson around the first of the year and then faced the reality of starting a new department in a new school. Fortunately, I had some exposure to this issue previously as I had moved from Western Reserve to Indiana with Ewald Selkent in 1959 when he formed a new department in an existing medical school. However, I was hardly prepared for the realities. We were all rather naive about starting a new medical school, and that may have been our saving grace. I began looking over resumes and CV's. Fortunately among them was one from Doug Stuart who was then at U.C. Davis. This picture was taken in a rare moment of levity 4 years later at a meeting in Munich. I met Doug here in Tucson one weekend. We spent 2 days discussing our philosophies. This was the time student unrest was beginning and part of it had to do with their feeling that faculty were becoming distracted from their teaching duties by the large influx of dollars into research at universities. I had sympathy with the students and felt that a faculty member in a major university should be committed to excellence in both. Doug was of the same view and it was also obvious that he had the kind of energy needed to build a new department. I was also very fortunate to attract Bill Dantzler who was a student of Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen and both the M.D. & Ph.D. degrees and interest in comparative and renal physiology. We were still negotiating with Bill so when Monte DuVal held a meeting of the faculty in May 1967 to plan the curriculum Doug Stuart and I represented physiology.

Remarkably over a period of several days the 20 or so faculty designed a medical curriculum for classes beginning that September.

Anatomy was taught mostly in the fall along with Biochemistry and Physiology. The spring semester included Physiology and Neuroscience designed jointly by Doug Stuart and Jay Angevine with help from Bill Sibley, Chief of Neurology.

David Rifkind, the Head of Microbiology had expected to teach in the second year but found himself committed to the first year and without any faculty other than himself.

I arrived with my family in Tucson in mid-June of 1967. So we quickly found that the desert Southwest was going to be a lot of hard work at home as well as on the job.

By the time September came, the basic science building was mostly completed but we literally walked through the front door with the medical students when classes began. The lecture hall was complete and the multidiscipline labs were operational but on the upper floors (this might be my office), things were just taking shape. In time, however, the research labs began to fill up with equipment brought with us from other institutions and Dan Richardson, my graduate student from Indiana, resumed his research. In December, Bob Gore arrived and the lab began to take on a normal level of activity.

In January 1968 we started to teach physiology to medical students with my introductory lectures followed by Stuart on nerve, muscle and synapse, myself and Dan Richardson as cardiovascular and respiration. Bill Dantzler arrived just in time to teach renal after doing so at Columbia. Bob Gore found himself teaching endocrinology - among other things.

We had a heavy laboratory schedule and  who came from UC Davis, in October, 1967, with Doug Stuart was invaluable in this activity. In fact all the labs went well despite our receiving equipment just before it was to be used in a student experiment. Without intending it, we invented the "just in time" approach used so successfully by the Japanese industry. During the spring we recruited Ralph Gruener and George Hedge to cover peripheral nerve and endocrinology.

In the first year our department had 3 secretaries who all left for different, including one who went to Oregon for Christmas vacation and never returned! Fortunately at the end of that year Mildred and Gale Long moved here from Cleveland and from 1968 to 1975 she did just about everything in the office and with great skill.

These shots were taken during a faculty party in the fall of 1968. By 1975 when this picture was taken the department had grown, several have left subsequently, George Hedge is now at W.VA., H.D. Kim is at Missouri. Lela Aldrich organized office operations as the department grew, becoming Business Manager and Lura Hanekamp and Joan Lavoie took over office operations as Administrative Assistants.

The department growth overall can be seen from this graph. In the first year the state budget to the department was $75,000 total. Research income was probably a little more than that. Now the state budget is $1.1 million and research income is $3.6 million.

There has been steady growth of faculty, staff, doctoral students and postdocs. This is a cumulative graph showing total numbers for the department.

We obtained our first training grant in 1969, and our first program project grant in 1974. Since Physiology had not developed elsewhere on campus at that time, I developed the department in several key areas, rather than focusing on my own interests. This has been referred to as the "Noah's Ark principle", since we had two of everything in order that people would have someone to talk to.

Our Program Project Grant on microcirculation has operated on a consortium basis with ties to UC San Diego and Marcos Intaglietta with whom I will work after retiring this summer.

Students and staff make our research productive and get us to interesting restaurants. Jeanne and Freeda keep our accounts in balance, Pat Goggans manages our growing teaching program and somehow Terry Hanley keeps the paper flowing in this building.

While I have focused on the Department of Physiology, there has been parallel growth of physiology in other departments and colleges. There are now over 40 courses at all levels from freshman to graduate to professional. The Physiological Sciences Graduate Program provides the framework for graduate training that mobilized all these resources for that aspect of our teaching. Some of the people in the other departments are: Dave Kreulen, Gene Morkin, Charles Tipton, Rick Levine and David Hartshorne.

Finally, after 27 years I am not about to go back and try it again, even if it were possible.

To see how far we have come one only has to compare the picture of the faculty back in 1900 with the most recent picture of our department faculty taken today. Not only have we grown enormously but we have learned to enjoy it and not take ourselves too seriously. Physiology has taken root in Arizona and prospered even while it has struggled elsewhere. Physiologists at Arizona play important roles nationally and internationally. Our own Dr. Dantzler has just finished his term as President of APS. Fortunately we have been able to attract talented, hard-working people who even today are endowed with the same persevering spirit that those first faculty possessed. While the challenges are different today, they are equally demanding. Preparing this talk has given me fresh insight to the accomplishments of physiologists and physiology on this campus and much optimism for its bright future!! Thank you very much.


Photographs for these pages were taken from the UA yearbook The Desert , University of Arizona, 1911, Tucson, AZ;

Career of William Beaumont and the Recognition of his Discovery, Benard I. Cohen, 1980, Arno Press, NY;

Between Harvard and America- the Educational Leadership of Charles W. Eliot , Hugh Hawkins, 1972, Oxford University Press, NY;

University of Arizona Historical Calender/1985, Virginia F. Hodge, Patricia Paylore and Phyllis Ball (eds.), 1984, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ;

and, from photographs by Dr. P.C. Johnson and H.W. Schechner.

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