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Obituary: John C. ''Jack'' McGiff, M.D. (1927 – 2013), past recipient of ASPET’s Otto Krayer Award in Pharmacology

February 02, 2016

Jack McGiffJohn Charles “Jack” McGiff passed away on February 2, 2013 at his home in Patchogue, NY. Dr. McGiff was a distinguished pharmacologist, medical scientist, teacher, chairman, and an articulate spokesman for pharmacology. He was Professor and Chairman Emeritus at New York Medical College (Valhalla, NY), had been a member of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) since 1966, a member of  the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics since 1975, a recipient of the Otto Krayer Award from ASPET  in 1997, a member of the Association of Medical School Pharmacology Chairpersons, a member of the British Pharmacological Society since 1975, and Chairman of the Eicosanoid Research Association in 1970.

Jack McGiff received his B.S. degree from Georgetown University and an M.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He interned at Cincinnati General Hospital and entered medical residency at the University of Virginia, which was interrupted by military service. After attending the U.S. Naval School of Aviation Medicine (Pensacola, FL), Dr. McGiff served in Korea and Japan with the Marine Air Groups 11 and 12 as senior medical officer and flight surgeon. On discharge, he returned to Columbia University as a research fellow of the American Heart Association (AHA). He completed his clinical training at the Pennsylvania Hospital and in 1962 was appointed to a joint faculty position in the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. McGiff received an established investigatorship from the AHA (1964 – 1969) and in 1966 was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which he still held at the time of his passing.

From 1966 to 1971, Dr. McGiff served as Chief of Cardiology at St. Louis University. In 1971, he joined the Department of Pharmacology at the Medical College of Wisconsin and was made a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Scholar in Clinical Pharmacology. In 1974, he was invited by Sir John Vane to join the Wellcome Research Laboratories (England) as a visiting scientist, where he remained until 1976, when he was appointed Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Tennessee. Dr. McGiff had been Chairman of Pharmacology at New York Medical College from 1979 – 2010. He was married to Sara Leighton Babb (Sally) (deceased) and they had five children: John, Katharine (deceased), Sara, Jeremiah, and Elizabeth.

Dr. McGiff served on three study sections of NIH, concluding with service as Chairman of the Cardiovascular Renal Study Section (1994 – 1996). He was appointed to the NIH Arteriosclerosis, Hypertension and Lipid Metabolism Advisory Committee for a four-year period and served as a delegate in scientific exchange programs sponsored by NIH with Italy, Poland and the Soviet Union (1978 – 1984).

Over the past 20 years, Dr. McGiff had worked mainly in the area of the biochemistry, physiology, and clinical pharmacology of novel arachidonate metabolites generated by cytochrome P450 monooxygenases that serve critical mechanisms involved in circulatory and renal physiology and impact on the clinical management of hypertension, congestive heart failure, renal disease, and hepatic cirrhosis. His most recent research involved altered release of cytochrome P-450 metabolites of arachidonic acid in renovascular disease and demonstrating that red cells participate in the regulation of the circulation by producing and releasing epoxyeicosatrienoic acid.

Through the years, Dr. McGiff received several other awards that bear mentioning: the Outstanding Research Award from the Wisconsin Heart Association (1975); The Medal of Achievement, Copernicus Academy of Medicine, Krakow, Poland (1984); the CIBA Award for Hypertension Research from the AHA Council for High Blood Pressure Research (1986); the MERIT Award from NHLBI (1990 – 2000); the Richard Bright Award from the American Society of Hypertension (1997); the Lifetime Achievement Award in Hypertension from the Council for High Blood Pressure Research, AHA (2004); the Western Returned Scholars Association Lifetime Achievement Award, Beijing, China (2009).

He has also received honorary doctorates from the Copernicus Academy of Medicine in Krakow, Poland (1987) and Fu Jen University in Taiwan (2001).

prepared by James W. Fisher, Ph.D. 

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