Dr Richard Ross, Class of 1942

Born in Richmond to a father that was also a doctor, Richard intended on becoming a doctor but not a  world renown cardiologist.  In high school he was president of several clubs including Hi-Y.  He commented that he thought his high school education was “pedestrian” but it gave him a full ride to Harvard.

He attended only 18 months when drafted into the Army during WWII.  He became a medical officer and was sent to the Arctic to study the effect of frost bite.  He was stationed 3 months at Fort Churchill, Canada and then sent to Japan.  He earned the title of “Frost bite expert” and was redeployed during the Korean War in 1950.

In the interim, he studied at Johns Hopkins as a fellow in physiology.  He also trained some at Harvard, but Johns Hopkins was to become his home.  IN 1975 he was named Dean of the School of Medicine.  He took the school from a ranking of 27th in the nation to #1  in the 15 years as Dean.  He increased federal funding for the research programs, fathered two researchers who won Nobel Prizes in medicine in 1978 for research on DNA molecules and enzymes restrictions.

He has garnered many awards during his tenure of 30 years as Dean of Medicine.  He received the James B Herrick Award in 1982, given for the advancement of clinical cardiology.  He received the Abraham Flexner Award in 1995 for his contributions to medical education.  He was selected as one of three surgeons to evaluate President Richard Nixon to see if he was fit to return to Washington DC in 1972 from California to testify in the Watergate proceeding before Judge John Sirica.  (Charles Hufnagel, Class of 1933 and Distinguished Alumni) was also selected.

In 1983, he authored a paper noting that over 600 thousand angioplasty procedures were performed in the US that year and he felt many were unnecessary for the well being of the patient and that instead of coronary by pass procedures, he recommended handling the bulk of heart disease with medications rather than procedures that often times must be repeated.

As Dean Emeritus at the School of Medicine, Ross was remembered for his pioneering in cardiac care with his research on ways to measure the efficiency of the heart areas using xenon, a radioactive gas to monitor blood flow thru the heart.

He has authored more than 150 papers and scientific articles on cardiovascular physiology and in 2005 was awarded the President’s Medal from the President  which recognized his “lifelong dedication to improving public health.”  This put him in standing with the likes of Supreme Court Justices, and other noteworthy Americans who have been thus honored since 1978.



































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