Nephrologist Donald W. Seldin, MD, one of the foremost teachers and researchers in clinical nephrology, died on April 25. He was 97 years old.
Donald W. Seldin
“It is important to recognize the magnitude of Dr. Seldin’s many professional achievements,” Daniel K. Podolsky, MD, president of UT Southwestern, said in an announcement about Seldin’s death on the university website. “In his 36 years as chairman of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, he held a singular view of what an academic department should be and built a world-class department around that vision – which has been emulated across the country.”
Seldin’s dedication to educating generations of top medical professionals, as well as his success in transforming a small medical school housed in converted Army barracks into one of the nation’s premier medical centers, are part of his lasting legacy, the National Kidney Foundation wrote in a press release. “He was a founding father of nephrology, a visionary leader and a warm human being who inspired thousands of trainees in his 36 years as chairman of the department of medicine at UT Southwestern Medical School,” Joseph Vassalotti, MD, chief medical officer of the NKF, said. “He literally transformed decaying military barracks in 1951 to the world-class medical complex that exists today.”
The NKF established an annual award in Seldin’s name in 1994 to recognize excellence in nephrology. Seldin was a major figure in distinguishing nephrology as a discipline and as a clinical and scientific subspecialty, training more than 200 nephrologists during his career, according to the NKF.
“Many of these nephrologists were inspired by Dr. Seldin to become distinguished investigators and chairs of nephrology throughout the U.S. and abroad,” Vassalotti said.
Seldin received his medical degree from Yale University in 1943. After serving in the U.S. Army as a captain of the Medical Corps from 1946 to 1948, he worked as an instructor then professor at Yale University until 1951. That year, he joined UT Southwestern Medical School as associate professor of medicine, where he launched a long career in clinical nephrology education, research and leadership. He was chair of the department of internal medicine for 36 years.
“Were it not for the life’s work of Dr. Seldin, nephrology as we know it, and the many advances in the field, would not exist,” Kevin Longino, CEO of the NKF, said.