David F. Bohr
David F. Bohr, professor of physiology at the University of Michigan, died Tuesday, November 4, 2008. He was 93 years old and lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Dr Bohr was born in Zurich, Switzerland, lived for 5 years as a boy in Cuba, and received most of his childhood education in southern California. In 1933, he entered the University of Michigan, matriculated in 1936 in its medical school, and graduated in 1942. Dr Bohr interned at Henry Ford Hospital for 1 year before being assigned by the US Army to a Dutch hospital ship for 3 years of duty as laboratory officer and detachment commander (1943–1946). Dr Bohr trained for 2 years as a research fellow at the University of California in San Francisco (1946–1948). Following this fellowship, he returned to the University of ‘Michigan, and, in 1957, was promoted to the rank of professor.
Dr Bohr’s rich career touched on many aspects of hypertension research, ranging from ion transport in red blood cells from hypertensive animals to the central actions of mineralocorticoids to elevate arterial blood pressure. However, it was his work on the role played by the vasculature in the development of hypertension that was his fundamental contribution to the field. Two of his favorite publications were published in Science.1,2 In the first, he demonstrated that calcium not only causes contraction of vascular smooth muscle but also in higher concentrations decreases excitability to cause relaxation or inhibition of contraction.1 In the second, he quantified the calcium requirement for contractile activity of vascular smooth muscle and skeletal muscle and showed that the calcium dependency for the contractile apparatus of the 2 machines was identical.2
Over the years, Dr Bohr was the recipient of many awards, including the 1984 Ciba Award for Hypertension Research and the Gold Heart Award from the American Heart Association. In 1977, he gave the Wiggers Lecture for the American Physiological Society. Dr Bohr received the A. Ray Daggs Award from the American Physiological Society in 2005. In 2007, Dr Bohr received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Michigan.
Dr Bohr was a dedicated educator who inspired and mentored numerous scientists and students, and many remember him as an important role model. He was as kind, fair, and generous as he was brilliant. Dr Bohr’s legacy is one to be remembered.
Dr Bohr served many scientific societies, including the Council for High Blood Pressure Research of the American Heart Association and the American Physiological Society. He joined the council in 1968 and was chairman from 1978 to 1980. He served on the Hypertension Task Force for the National Institutes of Health from 1978 to 1979. From 1965 to 1968, he was a member of the Committee on Physiology of the National Board of Medical Examiners (1965–1968), and he also served on the Cardiovascular Review Panel for the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences (1968–1972). As president of the American Physiological Society (1978–1979), Dr. Bohr visited Cuban medical schools and observed Cuban health care and promoted exchange of information between Cuban and American physiologists. He instituted a Standing Committee on Career Opportunities in Physiology to try to help young people during their early careers. He also initiated a meeting between the American Physiological Society Animal Care Committee and representatives of animal welfare groups at a time when it was possible to actually make progress with such interactions.
Dr Bohr served on the editorial boards of Hypertension, Circulation Research, American Journal of Physiology, and the Journal of Applied Physiology. He was a coeditor of the circulation section of the American Journal of Physiology and associate editor of the American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology. He also served as editor of the Handbook of Physiology, Vascular Smooth Muscle.
David’s work ethic was to be admired. John Faulkner, an internationally recognized muscle physiologist at Michigan once told me, “Clinton, I do not understand all the fuss about David’s work ethic. For as long as I have known him, he has only worked half days. Okay, he works 7 days a week, but it is only half days. He comes to work at 6 am and goes home at 6 pm-that’s only a half day.” Indeed, that was David, he worked 7 days a week, but it was only 12 hours a day.
Dr Bohr, preceded in death by his wife Kathleen, is survived by a son, John Nicholas Bohr, 2 daughters, Ann (Barbara) Bohr Benner and Louise Ann Bohr, and 2 grandchildren, Thomas Bohr Benner and Jack Allen Benner.
David Bohr took great pleasure in the game of tennis throughout his life. Family, friends, and students enjoyed his ready sense of humor, his compassion, his optimism, and his love of learning.
A memorial service, titled “David Francis Bohr, MD, Gentleman Scientist,” was held on Saturday January 31, 2009, in Ann Arbor at the Michigan League, League Ballroom (www.umich.edu/∼league), from 12 pm to 4 pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be made to the David F. Bohr Quasi Endowment, Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan, 1301 E. Catherine, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (www.physiology.med.umich.edu). ⇓