Lawrence D. Longo, MD, DHC (Hon)

Lawrence D. Longo, MD, DHC (Hon)

Lawrence D. Longo, MD, DHC (Hon) (January 5, 2016)

Born October 11, 1926, and raised in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Lawrence D. Longo passed away on January 5, 2016. He attended Pacific Union College as an undergraduate and obtained his medical degree from the College of Medical Evangelists (now Loma Linda University School of Medicine). He served his internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Los Angeles County Hospital.

Dr. Longo began his career as an obstetrician/gynecologist; however, he had a burning life-long passion for research. To pursue this calling, he returned to Loma Linda University in 1973 and established the Center for Perinatal Biology, a premier center of research in the field of developmental physiology that bears his name. Dr. Longo’s early work on the relation of carbon dioxide to fetal oxygenation was the basis of his contributions to several of the Surgeon General’s reports on Smoking and Health. He also played a key role in legislation that required warning labels on cigarette packages regarding the hazards of smoking for the pregnant woman and her fetus.

Dr. Longo served as a scientific consultant to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the National Research Council. He also served on an advisory panel of the Environmental Protection Agency, which made recommendations leading to the enactment of the Clean Air Act. His recent work explored the epigenetic basis of maternal dietary deprivation, hypoxia, and other stress on gene regulation in the fetus, with the development of hypertension and related diseases in the adult. Dr. Longo’s research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and other agencies for almost five decades. He authored more than 350 scientific papers, and authored or edited 20 books.

In 1987, Dr. Longo spearheaded the organization and funding of the Reproductive Scientist Development Program (RSDP) that recognized the importance of physician-scientists in medical research. His efforts to expand the research capabilities of academic obstetrics and gynecology departments culminated in this national program (currently in its 28th year) that trains committed young obstetrician gynecologists for a career in fundamental biomedical sciences.

Dr. Longo received numerous honors and awards for his contributions to medicine, including Fellowship ad eundem by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Great Britain (1994) and the President’s Distinguished Scientist Award by the Society for Gynecologic Investigation (1996). He was also awarded the degree Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Uruguay in 2011.

As a renowned bibliophile, he was known for his work in the history of medicine and chaired the Classics of Obstetrics and Gynecology Library. His recent work was derived from his own personal medical history collection, in collaboration with Dr. Lawrence P. Reynolds and is entitled “Wombs with a View”—a volume of illustrations of classic works from the 15th to 19th century with accompanying essays noting both the significance of the image and the background on the life and work of the authors. His medical history book collection was one of the premier collections in the world. Showing his true altruism and generosity, he donated this collection to the public domain. The Lawrence D. and Betty Jeanne Longo Collection of Reproductive Biology, a comprehensive collection that Dr. Longo amassed over a period of 60 years on the history of human reproduction, is currently at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (San Marino, CA).

Dr. Longo will be remembered as an internationally recognized and respected physician in the specialties of Physiology and Obstetrics & Gynecology, and as a researcher, mentor, teacher, missionary, innovator, medical historian, and ambassador of academic scholarship.

Dr. Longo was a wonderful husband and father. He imparted his appreciation for art, learning, and languages to his four children and four grandchildren. His love for his family, dedication to his work, and commitment to service is an inspiration to us all.

Submitted by John O. L. DeLancey, MD with primary contributions from Ronald R. Magness, PhD and Lubo Zhang, PhD

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