A celebration of the life of Rubin Bressler, MD, distinguished professor emeritus with the Department of Medicine at The University of Arizona College of Medicine, will be held Friday, June 26, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., at University Medical Center, DuVal Auditorium, 1501 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson. Dessert and coffee will be served in the DuVal lobby from 4:30 to 5 p.m. Dr. Bressler passed away May 3 in Tucson. He was 80.
During his 38-year career at the UA College of Medicine, Dr. Bressler was devoted to helping establish the College as a top-notch research and educational program. He served as head of both basic science and clinical departments at the College and helped establish several of the College’s Centers of Excellence, including the Sarver Heart Center. He was mentor and teacher to hundreds of medical students, provided care to thousands of patients and published groundbreaking research. His long and distinguished career truly embodied the College’s mission of education, research and patient care.
Dr. Bressler was born in Bronx, New York on Dec. 13, 1928. After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science, he attended the City College of New York for two years, then transferred to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he received his bachelor of science degree in 1951. He received his medical degree from Duke University in Durham, N.C., in 1957.
He completed his internship in medicine at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and was a junior assistant resident in medicine at Yale and a senior assistant resident in medicine at Duke. After completing a fellowship in biochemistry at Duke in 1961, he joined the Duke faculty and rose to a full professor in three years. At Duke, he was professor of medicine and pharmacology and head of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology in the Department of Medicine and of the Division of Pharmacology in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.
In 1964, at age 35, he was elected a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI) – also known as the “Young Turks” – one of the nation’s oldest and most respected medical honor societies, an exclusive group of outstanding biomedical investigators.
Dr. Bressler left Duke in 1970 to join the then-three-year old UA College of Medicine as professor of pharmacology and medicine. He established and headed the College’s Department of Pharmacology and also headed the Department of Medicine and the Department’s Division of Clinical Pharmacology. He held the Robert S. and Irene P. Flinn Endowed Chair of Medicine.
As a clinician, Dr. Bressler was both a pharmacologist and a specialist in internal medicine, with particular expertise in the treatment of diabetes and hypertension. He had extensive experience in medical, physical, psychological and psychiatric assessment and was a medical consultant for the UA Disability Assessment Research Clinic (DARC), part of the Arizona Arthritis Center. He also was vice president of The University Physicians, Inc. (now University Physicians Healthcare) and president of University Famli-Care.
His research included life-long investigations into the role of carnitine (a compound found in nearly all of the body’s cells that plays a critical role in energy production) in metabolism. He was an expert in diabetes, birth control drugs and the pharmacology of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs. He published basic science studies in the potential use of pharmacologic agents to treat cancer.
As a clinical investigator, he published more than 300 papers and wrote 10 books, including Geriatric Pharmacology, one of the most sought-after textbooks in the field.
Although he retired as professor emeritus in 2000, Dr. Bressler still taught medical students on occasion and continued his research.
He received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including a Burroughs Wellcome Clinical Pharmacology Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was a fellow of the American College of Physicians for more than 30 years and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received a Professional Achievement Award for Extraordinary Faculty from the UA Alumni Association and Sarver Heart Center in 2007, the Duke Medical Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1975, and he was invited to address his medical school class at its 50th reunion at Duke in 2007.
During his career, Dr. Bressler served on the editorial boards of 15 medical journals and publications, including 30 years as executive editor of the journal, Life Sciences.
He was a member of many professional societies and associations, including the American Society for Clinical Investigation (more than 40 years); American Society of Biological Chemists, American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Association of American Physicians (34 years each); American Federation for Clinical Research (31 years); American Medical Association (more than 30 years); American College of Physicians (more than 20 years); American Federation for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (19 years); and Association of Professors of Medicine (15 years).
While his career was in science and medicine, his interests were varied. An English major in college, he had a passion for poetry. He enjoyed and collected Native American art, wine, stamps, coins and fine china.
He is survived by Paula, his wife of nearly 54 years (June 26, 1955); three children: Stephen (Eve), Peter (Patty), and Karen (Bryan Stevens); and eight grandchildren: Rachel, Alex, Eric, Paige, Reann, Grace, Emily Rose (born the day he died; her middle name begins with “R” in memory of Rubin) and Dani Duffy.
For more information about Dr. Bressler’s career, visit the Web site www.opa.medicine.arizona.edu/newsroom/releaseText.cfm?storyID=1674