Photography

Robert George Dluhy MD

January 23, 1937 ~ May 25, 2022 (age 85)

Obituary

In Memoriam:  Robert George Dluhy 

 

Robert George Dluhy, a devoted physician, humanitarian, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, passed away peacefully on May 25, 2022, in Boston, MA, surrounded by his wife, Deborah Haigh Dluhy, and daughter, Leonore Alexandra Dluhy. He was 85.

 

Born in Passaic, NJ, son of the late Leona Fila and John George Dluhy, Bob was raised in Clifton, NJ, and graduated from College High School in Montclair, NJ. He earned his BA degree in Biology from Princeton University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude. He went on to study medicine at Harvard Medical School, receiving his MD in 1962, followed by an internship at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, currently known as Brigham and Women’s Hospital. After two years in Heidelberg, Germany, as a Captain in the US Army, Bob returned to the Brigham for his residency, followed by a clinical and research fellowship in endocrinology under Dr. George W. Thorn (1965-1970). 

 

Bob’s lengthy career was defined by an unwavering dedication to advancing the field of medicine through research in endocrinology, patient care, teaching, and mentoring. He was first and foremost a compassionate and dedicated healer. His work ranged from teaching at Harvard Medical School to leadership in the Division of Endocrinology and its fellowship program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School spanned 50 years. In 1998, he was appointed a Professor of Medicine and in 2002 became an inaugural member of the Academy at Harvard Medical School. From 1985-1995, he was the Director of the Fellowship Training Program in Endocrinology and Metabolism at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. From 1997 onwards, he was the Director of the Ambulatory Clinical Center; and from 2004 until his retirement, he was the Director of the Fellowship Training Program in Endocrinology and Metabolism. As a senior distinguished faculty member, he had a deep impact on the development of generations of physicians who were inspired by his clinical excellence and gentle, insightful mentorship. Those who worked with him described him as a magnificent clinician whose thoughtful approach to the art of diagnosis had a lasting impact on them and on their patients. 

 

His groundbreaking research with Richard P. Lifton, MD, PhD and the Lifton lab at Yale University led to the identification of the first genetic mutation in a heritable form of hypertension, glucocorticoid remediable aldosteronism (GRA). This work, first published in Nature (1992), was heralded as a model for understanding the genetics of essential hypertension and earned Bob the Hoechst Marion Roussel Hypertension Mentor Award from the Council for High Blood Pressure of the American Heart Association (1997). Bob’s excellence in medicine was recognized with the Distinguished Physician Award of the Endocrine Society in 2014. He was awarded the Special Faculty Prize for Sustained Excellence in Teaching by the Program in Medical Education at Harvard Medical School in 2016.

 

As part of his commitment to research, Bob participated as Associate Editor at The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (1985 -2000), Associate Editor at The New England Journal of Medicine (2001-2014), and Section Editor at Current Opinion in Endocrinology (2001-2020). 

 

Financial aid at Harvard Medical School was an area close to his heart. As Chair of the Financial Aid Committee, Bob made certain that future doctors received the financial support that they needed so that they could pursue their careers without the burden of heavy debt.  

 

Bob remained dedicated throughout his life to his fundamental reason for choosing medicine, which was to safeguard the wellbeing of all persons and to protect the sanctity of life. As a physician, he understood that there was a dynamic, sacred, and enduring relationship with his patients. Across their lifetimes, he ensured that they were embraced by the arms of medicine and extended outstanding care. His patients loved him deeply for his devotion to them. 

 

In his final chapter, he embarked on work in civil rights, to advance health equity in the United States. He often stated that he viewed the people of this country collectively as his patients, under a broad theoretical framework. With his daughter, they founded the Medical Civil Rights Committee and created the first bill to establish a statutory right to emergency medical care for persons in police contact and custody. Under their leadership, the bill was filed in multiple states and currently is awaiting federal consideration as well as introduction in other states. In 2021, they published a Perspective in The New England Journal of Medicine about the statutory gap that this bill seeks to remedy and explained its clinical implications. Just days before his death, Bob spoke with families who had suffered the deaths of family members during police contact, and they expressed their profound gratitude for the life-sustaining impact that this bill would have. So that lives will not continue to be lost, he would wish that this nation supports the passage of this landmark bill.

 

Bob’s life was enriched by his love for his family, music, travel, and the natural beauty of the world. June 11 would have marked his 60th wedding anniversary, and he valued every moment with his family. He declared the coast of Maine to be both his home and his solace. He routinely fed the birds and tended to the wildlife, and he loved to walk his dogs on Higgins Beach in Scarborough and in the Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth. Bob cared deeply about his golden retrievers, and he delighted in the many generations of dogs, cats and creatures who had been such an important part of his life. He had a dry and quiet wit, though he loved the zany characters of Peter Sellers, Ernie Kovacs and the antics of Monty Python; he watched the Life of Brian more times than could be counted. 

 

Ultimately, Bob would wish that people carry out his lifelong mission of bringing healing, equity, and compassion to this world. He left with the hope that others will persist in this work for the betterment of humanity. 

 

In addition to his wife, Deborah, and daughter, Leonore, Bob leaves an extended family that includes Gale D’Luhy, wife of his late brother John D’Luhy, and their daughters Amanda D’Luhy, Pamela Londono, husband Juan Londono and son Fitzwilliam Londono; brother-in-law Geoffrey Tegnell, wife Kathy Widger, and their daughter Jennifer Tegnell; brother-in-law Douglas Haigh, wife Sandra Moreno, and their children Evan Haigh and Charlie Haigh; sister-in-law Jessica Haigh; brother-in-law Alan Haigh, wife Alison Smith, and their daughter Sylvia Haigh; sister-in-law Alison Zaino  husband Boniface Zaino, and their daughter Isabel Zaino. 

 

There will be a celebration of Bob’s life held in the early fall at Harvard Medical School. 

 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts in Bob’s memory be made in support of Financial Aid at Harvard Medical School, Alumni Affairs and Development, P.O. Box 419720, Boston, MA 02241-9720 (giving@hms.harvard.edu); or to support the fellows program in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 221 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. 

 

 

 

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