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Biographical Memoirs Volume 81 (2002) / Chapter Skim
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Earl Philip Benditt
Pages 24-47

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From page 25...
... numbers. For his studies of disease processes he exploited quantitative histochemistry and electron microscopy, utilizecl biochemical techniques, en cl in the late 19SOs turner!
From page 26...
... Benclitt maintained a great respect for the skills en cl achievements of caring practitioners of medicine spanning the generations from his influential uncle to his son Joshua. Benclitt's record at Swarthmore earnecl him a coveted place at Harvarc!
From page 27...
... was relievecl at the end of his second year by an invitation from Lawrence Irving, the chair of biology at Swarthmore, to join with Peter Morrison in a summer research expedition to Gaspe in Quebec to stucly the decrease in oxygen capacity of bloocl in AtIan tic salmon as the fish movecl from brackish to fresh water cluring their journey to spawn. Years later when Irving en cl Morrison hacl migrated to Alaska's Institute for Arctic Research en cl Benclitt hacl reached Seattle, a project developed to Took at the blood vessels of aging Pacific salmon returning up river.
From page 28...
... program and a tradition of providing residents with ample opportunities for research. A number of Benclitt's peers in the program hacl similarly been attracted by the research orientation of the department, notably Robert Wissler, Clarence Lushbaugh, Olaf Skinsnes, en c!
From page 29...
... been arranger! in the lab by a visiting postdoc at which the main course was delicately fried, breaded legs from rats sacrificial for their mast cells.
From page 30...
... With David Lagunoff, another meclical student recruit at the University of Chicago, he isolates! rat peritoneal mast cells en cl clemonstratecl the presence of 5hyciroxytryptophan clecarboxylase in the cells to account for their serotonin content.
From page 31...
... Benclitt brought with him to Seattle two graduating residents from the Chicago program, Bob Priest and George Martin, together with a moclest National Institutes of Health grant to jump-start research in the department. Lagunoff
From page 32...
... Rich Prehn, Buster AlvorcI, Bernie Wagner, en cl KarIe Mottet. In 1962 Benclitt turned clown the possibility of a chair at a prestigious East Coast meclical school in favor of the potential he saw at the University of Washington for continuing to builcl a department that wouIcl excel in research, while, as Cannon hacl acivisecl on Benclitt's taking leave of Chicago, keeping "experimental pathology in balance with the urgent needs of practical pathology." Benclitt was well aware of the conflict between the "neecl for action in treating disease en c!
From page 33...
... heating with Ross, the morphology of renal disease with Trump en cl subsequently Gary Striker, studies of mast cell structure en cl function with Lagunoff, the influence of basement membrane on tissue regeneration with Rucicly Vracko, abnormalities of collagen cross-linking with Roy Page, catecholamine injury to myocarclium with Denny Reichenbach, ant! serum oxiciases with Martin.
From page 34...
... With the help of Mark Hermodson and Lowell Ericksson in Ken Walsh's sequencing lab in the Biochemistry Department, N-terminal sequences were obtained en cl then the complete sequence of the monkey amyloid. A premature claim by George Glenner that all amyloicis consisted of N-terminal portions of immunogIobulin light chains was reaclily shown to be mistaken by Benclitt en c!
From page 35...
... These studies aciclecl to the growing evidence for a key role of smooth muscle cells in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Stephen Schwartz, after his pathology residency, began work with Benclitt on the intima of the rat aorta.
From page 36...
... He also showocl that some very small samples, 0.~-0.3mm3, of meclia beneath the plaques en cl of normal vessel wall were not monotypic. Ross, following a sabbatical at the Strangeways Research Laboratory in Cambridge, began to culture vascular smooth muscle cells and with Michael Stemerman induced intimal smooth muscle proliferative lesions in femoral arteries of nonhuman primates by removing the enclothelium with a balloon catheter.
From page 37...
... Repeating previous work by others, they inclucecl intimal smooth muscle lesions in chicken abdominal aorta after prolonged treatment with benz~a~pyrene or 7,12-dimethyIbenzanthracene. When several closes of the latter carcinogen were followocl by chronic treatment with methoxamine, a putative tumor promoter, lesions occurred!
From page 38...
... evidence that monotypic patch size in the meclia beneath either plaques or diffuse intimal thickening, although usually smaller than that of plaques, was in contrast to Benditt's original findings, of a size that couIcl reasonably be expected to give rise to plaques from division of more than a single progenitor cell. Benclitt participates!
From page 39...
... It was not that he was not able to present a clear, concise, cliciactic lecture, as he provecl on many occasions. The problems arose in the course of a lecture when, seemingly forgetting his audience, he wouIcl become engaged in an ongoing critical review of the information he was conveying, requiring frequent caveats, corrections, and revisions as he proceeclecI.
From page 40...
... While serving as a consultant to a major drug company, he was subjected to a detailed harangue, economically justifying the inacivisability of undertaking the clevelopment of an HIV vaccine. At the conclusion of the presentation, Benclitt offered his agreement with the conclusion on the condition that the company remove from its Togo the wore!
From page 41...
... Marcella was a writer, an editor, en cl a community activist, their sons establishecl successful careers in their own spheres, John as a science writer en c! editor, Alan as a New York actor, Joshua as an academic pulmonologist, en cl Charles as an architectural designer.
From page 42...
... a thermodynamic clefinition of normality of biological function in terms of maximum energetic efficiency en cl a corresponding definition of disease as a deviation from optimal function, rather than from average function. Later he came to view disease less rigicIly as a "failure of organizational regulation en cl of proper interaction with the environment of the several parts of an organism." In 1971, returning to the roots of the worcl itself, he clefinecl disease as "a distortion of the operations and/or the structures of the body beyond the ordinary comfortable limits of the living state." While snippets of his efforts at developing a logical, self-consistent philosophic basis for pathology appeared in print, Benditt never publishecl an extenclecl exposition of his icleas, perhaps because he was never quite satisfied with his formulations en cl was repeatedly revising them in the belief, held by many of us, that there wouIcl always be time enough tomorrow en cl the next clay to final the icleal worcis to express his vision.
From page 43...
... WE ARE GRATEFUL first and foremost to Marcella Benditt for her help in recollecting Earl's life. We also wish to thank Robert Wissler, Stephen Schwartz, Lawrence Loeb, Mary Lipscomb, and Charles Murry for their willingness to share their memories of Earl with us.
From page 44...
... 5-Hydroxytryptamine and histamine as mediators of the vascular injury produced by agents which damage mast cells in rats.
From page 45...
... The major proteins of human and monkey amyloid substance. Common properties including unusual N-terminal amino acid sequences.
From page 46...
... Polyploid nuclei in human artery wall smooth muscle cells.


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