Chesterton Tribune


Donald Rowley dies at 90

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Donald Rowley, 90, a longtime Porter Beacher and a pioneer immunologist and inventor at the University of Chicago, died on Feb. 24.

“Rowley, professor emeritus in pathology and the Committee on Immunology, was a wide-ranging and imaginative researcher,” the UC death announcement reads. “He made a series of fundamental discoveries that had a significant impact on the basic understanding of the immune system as well as on many clinical specialties, including cancer immunology, organ transplantation and cardiovascular disease.”

Rowley was born Feb. 4, 1923, in Owatonna, Minn., the son of an osteopathic surgeon.

He is survived by his wife, Janet, a distinguished service professor at the University of Chicago; three of their four sons: David, Robert and Roger; five grandchildren: Jason, Jenny, Gia, Anra and Ian; and his sister, Alice Panzer.

In 1941 Rowley graduated from Pillsbury Military Academy and won a full scholarship to the University of Chicago. In 1943, he enlisted in a U.S. Army program that trained physicians and was sent to the Philippines to work in a medical-aid station being set up in advance of an invasion on Japan. In 1946, Rowley returned to UC as a graduate student in pathology, and received his doctor of medicine degree in 1950. In 1954, he joined the University of Chicago staff as a research associate (instructor) in pathology and became a full professor in 1969.

Rowley’s “best-known discovery came outside his chosen field,” UC said, when he and a colleague used a spring-wound pocket watch to invent a “portable pulse counter” which could “accurately record the electrical activity of the heart for more than 24 hours.” That device also incorporated the “first gel electrodes.”

Then, in the late 1960s, Rowley and a graduate student “were the first to describe the function of a previously unrecognized cell type, a component of the adaptive immune system,” UC said.

Rowley published more than 100 research papers, many in leading journals, as well as several book chapters; received a U.S. Public Health System Merit Award; was named with his wife American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows; served as president of the Chicago Association of Immunologists and as associate editor of the Journal of Immunology.

A memorial service is being planned for the spring. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to the Donald and Janet Rowley Scholarship Fund, which aids undergraduates at the University of Chicago.



Posted 3/14/2013