Roberto Franco-Saenz, MD
Teacher, Physician, Scientist
Roberto Franco-Saenz was a member of a dying breed of triple-threat academicians—outstanding teacher, physician, and scientist. I first met Roberto in 1975 when I came to the Medical College of Ohio (MCO) as the Chairman of Medicine. Roberto was the sole endocrinologist running the Endocrine Division at this new school. It soon became clear to me that he was extremely bright and well trained as a physician and scientist.
He was born and raised in Colombia and graduated with honors from the Medical School Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota in 1962. He was trained in medicine and endocrinology at the University of Pennsylvania and was recruited by his mentor, Dr. George Ludwig, the first MCO Chairman of Medicine to join the MCO faculty in 1971.
Roberto was an extraordinary teacher. He received the MCO Golden Apple Award 4 times for excellence in teaching and the Laureate Award from the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Physicians. He had the knowledge and ability to translate basic science into clinical medicine, both in the classroom and at the bedside.
Roberto was an exceptional physician. He had the knowledge of a super specialist, but the heart of a generalist. He could manage the most complicated endocrine problem, as well as the common cold. He was the doctor’s doctor and the personal physician of numerous faculty.
Roberto was an enthusiastic scientist. He read extensively and was up-to-date on the latest developments in his area of investigation. He was highly productive with 96 publications, most of them in peer-reviewed journals, including 12 publications in Hypertension. The majority of his publications related to the renin-aldosterone field and hypertension. Because of his scientific achievements, he was elected a Fellow of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research and was a member of the International Society of Hypertension, as well as the Inter-American Society of Hypertension and the American Society of Hypertension.
Even during his last days, he remained active in research as principal investigator of an important interuniversity clinical study and in an experimental study on the effect of aldosterone on the heart.
Roberto was my scientific collaborator for >25 years. He was the spark in the laboratory and without him, little would have been accomplished.
When Roberto died on April 17, 2004, the field of medicine lost a fine scholar, and I lost a dear friend.