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Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.
Paul Cloeren MacDonald, MD, 67, professor of
obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
Center, Dallas, died November 25, 1997, of disseminated carcinoma. He held
the Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair in Reproductive Biology and
was director of the Cecil H. and Ida Green Center for Reproductive Biology
Dr MacDonald was born in Oklahoma and his family moved to Texas during
his early years. After graduation from Southern Methodist University and Southwestern
Medical School in Dallas, he completed his internship in 1956 at Methodist
Hospital of Dallas and then served in the US Navy for 2 years. He returned
to Dallas for residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at Parkland
Memorial Hospital and then studied steroid biochemistry with Dr Seymour Lieberman
at Columbia University. After his return to Southwestern Medical School, he
rapidly earned a reputation as an astute clinician, a gifted teacher, and
a brilliant investigator. He was one of a relatively small group of clinical
scientists whose career was spent wedding basic sciences with obstetrics,
gynecology, and human reproduction. His earliest scientific discoveries included
elucidation of the origin and interconversion of gonadal and adrenal steroid
hormones in children, women, and men.
Dr MacDonald served as chairman of obstetrics and gynecology from 1970
to 1977 and developed a close relationship with well-known philanthropists
Mr and Mrs Cecil H. Green, cofounders of Texas Instruments. The Greens' interest
included improvements in perinatal outcomes, and they endowed the Cecil H.
and Ida Green Center for Reproductive Sciences headed by Dr MacDonald as the
Green Distinguished Chair in Reproductive Biology. The accomplishments of
Dr MacDonald and the team of clinicians and scientists he recruited to the
Green Center included biochemical and molecular foundations of the initiation
of human parturition; pathophysiology of pregnancy-induced hypertension; physiology
and pathophysiology of endometrium; extraglandular estrogen formation in postmenopausal
women and its relationship to obesity, age, and endometrial cancer; dehydroepiandrosterone
sulfate as the precursor of placental estrogen in human pregnancy; and human
fetal lung development and respiratory distress syndrome.
For more than 25 years, Dr MacDonald directed a major training program
in reproductive physiology. Many clinician-scientists and postdoctoral fellows
who trained with him are, or have served as, division chiefs, departmental
chairs, or deans of medical schools. Dr MacDonald received a number of distinguished
appointments and awards and served on study sections, peer review committees,
and task forces for the National Institutes of Health and the March of Dimes.
He was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1987 and in 1997 to the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences. One particularly cherished honor was the Paul
C. MacDonald Professorship in Obstetrics and Gynecology established by his
trainees in conjunction with community obstetrician-gynecologists. A tireless
worker, Dr MacDonald always found time to offer help and to stimulate young
clinicians and scientists. He demanded perfection of himself as well as those
with whom he worked, but always gave full credit to the entire team for their
successes. He will be fondly remembered for his provocative insights into
human reproduction and for his remarkable humanity.
Dr MacDonald and his wife of 45 years, Sue, have 3 sons and daughters-in-law:
Cary and Tami, Rusty and Barbara, and Scott and Becky, and 8 grandchildren,
Erik, Cassy, Jason, Erin, Heather, Jenny, Ryan, and Missy.
Cunningham FG. Paul Cloeren MacDonald, MD. JAMA. 1998;279(9):719. doi:10.1001/jama.279.9.719
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