For Immediate Release
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All Children's Hospital And University Of South Florida Mourn World-Renowned Researcher Dr. Robert A. Good
(June 14, 2003) St. Petersburg, FL – The man considered by many to be the father of modern immunology has died. Dr. Robert A. Good was Physician-In-Chief of All Children's Hospital, Director of the Children's Research Institute at All Children's in St. Petersburg, FL and Distinguished Research Professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. He died late on Friday night, June 13, 2003 in his St. Petersburg home surrounded by family, including those he counted as his "intellectual children" his students.
"The world has lost one of the greatest scientists of our time," remarked Gary Carnes, President and CEO of All Children's Health System. "And All Children's has lost a loved and honored member of our hospital family. Dr. Good's legacy will live on forever in the many scientists and physicians who trained under his tutelage, and through All Children's continued commitment to training tomorrow's healers and researching tomorrow's cures."
"Robert Good was a friend and an inspiration to me and to literally thousands of physicians and scientists who are trying to save children from complex disease," said John Curran, MD, pediatrician and Vice Dean of the USF College of Medicine. "He taught us to look further than we could see at the time, to reach for new horizons of ideas we hadn't yet imagined. He did this himself, and it will be his legacy."
"The university joins Bob Good's legions of friends in grieving for a mentor, but also in treasuring his extraordinary accomplishments," said Judy Genshaft, President of the University of South Florida. "His impact on this university is palpable. Beginning in the 1980s, he galvanized this university's powerful alliance with All Children's Hospital. It was our honor to name him a Distinguished University Professor, and he challenged us all to greatness."
"Through Dr. Good and the many people at All Children's Hospital," said Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young (R -St. Petersburg), "my wife Beverly and I came to realize the importance of bone marrow transplantation and succeeded in establishing the National Bone Marrow Registry. Dr. Good is a giant in medicine whose research and compassion gave hope to thousands. He touched our community in so many ways."
"All Children's was truly blessed when Dr. Good joined as Physician-In-Chief in 1985," said J. Dennis Sexton, then President & CEO of the hospital. "His contributions to the lives of children, both as a scientist and as a human being, are without equal. His concern for children's lives through his work to understand the immune system and bone marrow transplantation benefited not just the little ones, but countless thousands of adults who have been saved through the discoveries he made. There are few people that have affected the children of the world so positively as Robert Good."
Dr. Good's work with immunology was just one facet of a lifetime of significant medical and biological research. A world-recognized researcher, teacher and pediatrician and a frequently cited medical and biological scientist, Good was considered a pioneer in the field of immunology. He began his work in 1944 with studies to define, experimentally, the immunologic function of the plasma cell as the antibody-reproducing cell. His studies helped to establish that immunodeficiency diseases are not rare, as once thought, but a frequent and very important basis of serious disease in mankind. His studies also led to the independent discovery of the role of the thymus in developmental biology, the recognition and demonstration of the two basic arms of the immune system known as T-cells and B-cells, and the discovery of the most useful methods to foster bone marrow transplantation.
Good was considered a founder of bone marrow transplantation, performing the first successful human bone marrow transplant in the world in 1968 while at the University of Minnesota. The patient, an infant with a profound inherited immune deficiency that had killed eleven male children in his extended family, was cured with marrow donated by his sister.
He is now a healthy adult and the father of twin boys. Good was the first to use bone marrow transplantation to cure a fatal genetic disease (SCID); a fatal acquired disease (aplastic anemia) and an enzyme deficiency (adenosine deaminase deficiency). Good and his colleagues continued to research further uses of bone marrow transplantation, which is now considered useful in treating some 75 diseases including leukemias and otherwise fatal immunodeficiency disorders.
In the eighteen years since his arrival at All Children's Hospital in April of 1985, Good and his research teams received millions of dollars in federal and private research grants to study such issues as how to eliminate the hazards of graft-versus-host disease in recipients of certain types of transplants and the creation of immunologic tolerance in transplant recipients. The role of nutrition in the aging process was also a subject of study. In addition to activities in the research labs, Good helped to train more than one hundred future physicians through residency and fellowship programs at All Children's Hospital and the University of South Florida. Good was a regular on teaching rounds with these young doctors, a means by which he said he was able to take basic research questions from the patient's bedside to the laboratory bench -- and back. The first Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at All Children's Hospital was built under Dr. Good's direction. He also instituted clinical programs in pediatric allergy/immunology, pediatric rheumatology and pediatric HIV at All Children's.
After initial successes with bone marrow transplantation and immunologic research at the University of Minnesota, Good was tapped in 1973 to become President and Director of the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and Director of Research at Memorial Hospital in New York. It was during his ten-year period at Sloan-Kettering that Dr. Good was featured in a Time magazine cover story, "Toward Control of Cancer." Thereafter, Dr. Good joined the Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City as Member and Head of the Cancer Research Program, Professor of Pediatrics, Research Professor of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology.
Throughout his scientific career of more than a half-century, Good had been the recipient of more than one hundred international and national awards, including:
- The Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, for uniquely important contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms of immunity, discovery role of the thymus, and launching an era of cellular engineering (1970)
- The Gairdner Foundation Award (Toronto, Canada) in recognition of many contributions to the understanding of host defense mechanisms (1970)
- The American College of Physicians Award for distinguished contributions to science as related to medicine (1972)
- The John Howland Award of the American Pediatric Society for a lifetime of distinguished contribution to the field of pediatrics (1987)
- Charter Member, International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry award for pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation (1989)
- Ronald McDonald Children's Charities Award of Excellence, for advancing children's health through his work in bone marrow transplantation, immunology and immunodeficiency disease (1991)
- The Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star, conferred by His Excellence The Emperor of Japan, for great achievements in academic research and further development of scientific exchange between the United States and Japan (1998)
- Achievement Award, American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT), recognizing Dr. Good as one of the three giants of blood and marrow transplantation along with George Santos, M.D. and E. Donnall Thomas, M.D. (2000)
- Establishment of the Robert A. Good Chair in Pediatric Immunology, Children's Research Institute at USF/All Children's. This multi-million dollar endowment was made possible by donations from the Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust in recognition of Dr. Good's scientific achievements. Good had been a Dana trustee since 1982. (2001)
- All Children's Hospital Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, the first of its kind, to recognize Dr. Good's tireless efforts on behalf of children through treatment, teaching, research, advocacy and philanthropy. (2002)
Good received more than a dozen honorary degrees from academic institutions. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a founding member of the National Institutes of Medicine, and a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served a one-year term on the President's Cancer Panel, the group that spurred the development of the "Conquest of Cancer" program from its formation in 1972. In 1980, he was named the first Foreign Advisor to the Academy of Medical Sciences in the People's Republic of China.
Good authored or co-authored more than 2,000 publications and had written or edited some 50 books. He trained and educated more than 300 students, each of whom specializes in analyzing and developing cellular and humoral immunology. More than 200 of these former students or former young associates who studied with him are now professors or department chairman at institutions of learning and research around the world.
On the personal side, Good was born May 21, 1922 in Crosby, Minnesota, the second son of two professional educators. Their love of teaching was only one of the early influences that shaped his life. When Good was six years old, his father died of cancer. It was then that he first vowed to become a doctor and pursue research that would cure disease. He attended the University of Minnesota, overcoming a polio-like disease in his junior year of undergraduate study to continue his academic career at the University's Medical School. He received his B.A. in 1944, M.B. in 1946, and both Ph.D. and M.D. in 1947, the first time the University had awarded the dual degrees to a recipient in a single ceremony. Good is survived by his wife, Noorbibi K. Day-Good, Ph.D., his five children, two stepchildren and 17 grandchildren.