Marion Carlyle Crenshaw, Jr.

Marion Carlyle Crenshaw, Jr.


Marion Carlyle Crenshaw, Jr. was born on April 15, 1931, in Lancaster, South Carolina. He graduated cum laude from Davidson College, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his MD degree in 1956 from Duke University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha. After a medical internship at Duke University, Dr. Crenshaw pursued residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology under Dr. F. Bayard Carter. During his residency he was honored by being selected as a Mead Johnson Fellow and so took extra rotations of 6 months each in Pathology and Endocrinology, the latter under Dr. E.C. Hamblen. His academic career was interrupted for 2 years in the United States Air Force at Carswell Air Force Base Hospital in Texas.

Dr. Crenshaw returned to Duke in 1964 to continue his academic pursuits in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, then led by Dr. Roy Turnage Parker. The recipient of a National Institutes of Health Special Fellowship with Dr. Donald Barren at Yale, he began work on what would become his lifelong research interests: the control of uterine blood flow and carbohydrate metabolism during pregnancy. In the process he developed a technique for studying uterine blood flow with a dye-dilution technique; this was ingenious given the technology of the time. He practiced obstetrics and gynecology in partnership with C. Donald Christian, who later became the first chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Arizona, and Arthur C. Christakos, who later became Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education at Duke. This partnership was part of the faculty practice plan at Duke, where Carlyle also taught and supervised the work of residents, graduate students, medical students, and fellows and participated in Duke's innovative medical school curriculum reform. With joint appointments in Physiology and Pediatrics, Dr. Crenshaw became the E.G. Hamblen Associate Professor of Family Planning and Reproductive Medicine in 1971 and was named the E.G. Hamblen Professor in 1974, only 10 years after joining the Duke Faculty.

During this time at Duke, Dr. Crenshaw solidified his position as one of the most productive researchers in fetal and maternal physiology through the establishment of a fetal sheep laboratory on one of Duke's farms and through collaboration with researchers in neonatology, physiology, biochemistry, cardiology, and anesthesiology. While at Duke he also established one of the earliest Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowships and was the co-founder of the Division of Perinatology with Dr. George Brumley from Neonatology and Dr. A.F. David Cole from Obstetric Anesthesiology. Dr. Crenshaw was the Codirector of Perinatology from 1966, until he came to Baltimore. This Division was multidisciplinary in all aspects of academic function, a concept unusual even today. In his last years at Duke, the pediatric codirector was his wife, Dr. Lillian Blackmon.

Collaboration was the watchword again when Carlyle was named Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1980. He came to a small department that was isolated from many of the obstetricians and gynecologists in the area and breathed fresh air into regional obstetrics through his open and inclusive leadership. He grew the department, broadened the scope of the maternal transport service, and watched the number of requests for service from his department soar, commanding more than half of all of the state's maternal transports. He developed perinatal regionalization programs in Maryland as he had in North Carolina. The Maryland program included outreach consultations — initially to Easton — now to much of the eastern half of the state. This outreach program permits women to receive all of their care close to home with their plan of care developed in collaboration with university perinatologists. The program is now named the Carlyle Crenshaw Perinatal Health Initiative. It has permitted women who formerly received no care because they could not travel to the available high-risk care to now receive the best care available. Many other women now receive much more convenient and coordinated care.

Carlyle gave freely of his time despite his heavy teaching, practice, and research responsibilities. He served as an examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology for 20 years and was one of the founders of the Society of Perinatal Obstetricians. He contributed to the No Name Society, dedicated to the study of fetal physiology, and he held executive positions in many state and national professional organizations including the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society of Gynecologic Investigation, the Council on Residency Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology (where he chaired the Committee on InService Training for Residents in Obstetrics and Gynecology and played a major role in completely restructuring the in-service examination), and the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society. He served on the Editorial Boards of the Southern Medical Journal and the Maryland Medical Journal and was a frequent reviewer for Obstetrics & Gynecology and the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Carlyle Crenshaw authored many papers and book chapters, received many national and international awards, and gave national and international continuing education talks without number, yet his proudest professional achievements were the residents, fellows, and young faculty he trained, befriended, and mentored. Many obstetricians around the country today are in their present positions of leadership only because of Carlyle Crenshaw; many more achieved much of their professional expertise and knowledge through his guidance and example. Marion Carlyle Crenshaw, Jr., MD, FACOG, will be missed, but he will always be carried in the hearts and minds of many. His openness, his forgiving and generous nature, his carriage as a gentleman under any and all circumstances, his determination to always work harder than he ever expected anyone else to work, his clinical skills, his ability to communicate, and his ability to think critically have loaned skills and goals to many who can repay their debt to him only by teaching and mentoring others — and we will.

Submitted by David A. Nagey, MD, PhD

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