Neil A Kurtzman MD is the Grover E Murray Professor Emeritus and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Internal Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock. He has combined careers in clinical medicine, education, basic research, and administration for more than 40 years.
A native of Brooklyn NY, Dr Kurtzman received his BA with honors from Williams College in 1957 and his MD from New York Medical College in 1961. His internship was served at the Guthrie Clinic and Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre PA. He trained in internal medicine at the Ohio State University Hospital and at William Beaumont General Hospital, El Paso TX where he was chief medical resident. From 1966 to 68 he was a nephrology fellow at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas under the direction of Donald Seldin and Floyd Rector.
Following his fellowship he was assigned to the US Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio. Less than a year later he was appointed chief of the institute’s metabolic branch and chief of nephrology at Brooke Army Medical Center. Under his direction the nephrology division at Brooke started the army’s first nephrology fellowship and its first chronic dialysis program. During his stay in the army he received an early promotion to major for merit and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1970. He also served as the institute’s deputy commander and director.
In 1972 at the age of 35 he was appointed professor of medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and professor of physiology at its graduate college, bypassing all other academic ranks. He was also appointed chief of the section of nephrology at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. As Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine from 1985 to 1998 at the Texas Tech University School of Medicine he was responsible for all the school’s programs in internal medicine at its four campuses. From 1985 to 1994 he also served as chief of the section of nephrology. Over the years he has trained hundreds of medical residents and more than 100 nephrology fellows, many of whom have achieved great distinction both in academia and practice.
Dr Kurtzman is internationally known for his research on kidney function and disease; most notable is his work on the kidney’s regulation of acid excretion. He is the author of two books, more than 300 scientific papers, and approximately 340 abstracts. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Administration, the American Heart Association, and the National Kidney Foundation. He has been elected to every important society in academic internal medicine including the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. He has been a visiting professor at virtually every medical school in the US and at scores of medical schools outside the country.
A fellow of the American College of Physicians, he served three years as its director for the Northwest District of Texas. He is a member of the national medical honor society, Alpha Omega Alpha, and served as the AOA councilor at the University of Illinois for seven years and at Texas Tech for 17 years. His students have elected him the outstanding teacher of the year five times. He is also a member of the national research honor society, Sigma Xi. In 1993 he received the Alumnus Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement from New York Medical College.
His bio has appeared in Marquis Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, and in the National Reference Institute Who’s Who in American Education.
He was editor of Seminars in Nephrology from its founding in 1981 until the end of 2006. He has served as the Associate Editor of the Archives of Internal Medicine and the American Journal of Nephrology and has served on the editorial boards of 10 other journals including the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and Kidney International. He has served as an editorial referee for 15 additional journals. He was a member of the NIH’s General Medicine B study section and was the Chairman of the Veterans Administration’s Merit Review Board in Nephrology. He was the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).
In 1992 Dr Kurtzman was elected to a two-year term as president of the NKF. The NKF is the largest volunteer organization in the country dealing with all aspects of kidney and related diseases. Through its 52 affiliates it supports research, training, and patient care to meet its mission, which is the cure or prevention of renal disease. The president is responsible for all the foundation’s professional activities.
On February 1, 1996 Dr Kurtzman received the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation Founder’s Medal, the society’s highest award. The Founder’s Medal is presented annually to a society member who has made distinguished contributions to the conduct or furtherance of clinical investigation. On November 1st of the same year, he received the Texas Academy Chapter of the American College of Physicians’ Laureate Award for outstanding contributions to Texas medicine.
On January 1, 1997 Dr Kurtzman assumed the editorship of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation, for a five year term. He served as one of 15 founding members of the National Advisory Council to the President of New York Medical College. In the Fall of 1997 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for “pioneering studies on renal acidification mechanisms.”
On November 6, 1999 Dr Kurtzman received the David M Hume Award from the National Kidney Foundation. The award is the highest professional honor given by the NKF. On November 17, 1999 he received the title of University Distinguished Professor, the first time this honor has been given by the institution, in recognition of his achievements in teaching, research, and service to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the School of Medicine.
In 2000 Dr Kurtzman published his first novel, a darkly humorous examination of the making of a doctor, Doing Nothing. He received the Headliner Award from the School of Mass Communications at Texas Tech University on April 15, 2003. In 2004 he was granted the Grover E Murray Professorship by the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents. It is “granted to professors in recognition of the attainment of national and/or international distinction for outstanding research or other creative scholarly achievements.” He was the first faculty member at Texas Tech to hold both the University Distinguished and the Grover E Murray professorships.
In addition to his many scientific presentations and publications he has lectured (in the US, Europe, and at sea) and written extensively on opera. He has published more than 1300 articles since December 2007 on his website medicine-opera.com.
Good friends from the Dyess AFB years, Dr Vernon Farthing and his wife Chris, sent me your book Doing Nothing. Wow! I graduated from Emory School of Medicine and had a career as an Air Force Ob-Gyn, then faculty U Cal, Davis. I have read House of God, Intern by Doctor X, and all those books by the surgeon, Dr Nolen. All were good but none brought back the joy, fear, and a host of other emotions of your book. The head of Cardiology at Emory during the 70s was Dr Walker! No one will forget his Grand Rounds. I am now fully retired and my wife and I devote most of our time as docents, boad members, and lecturers at the Ameilia Island Museum of History (I have a MA in Anthropology, U of Hawaii, ’70), something we always wanted to do. Thanks so much for your book….I hope there is another in the wings.
So when do you sleep??
Hi Dr Kurtzman,
I was one of your medical students in the 70’s at University of Illionois Medical School. You were my research advisor and co-author on the paper,
Dach, J Kurtzman Neil, A scanning electron microscopic study of the glycerol model of acute renal failure.”Laboratory investigation; a journal of technical methods and pathology” Lab Invest.1976 Apr;34(4):406-14.
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Although PSA screening eradicated advanced prostate cancer from the population, there was a downside.
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I appreciate our mutual adoration for the art of Pippo DiStefano, however, kindly credit my photo
of him, in the red sweater, which is dated 1966. Many thanks.
Brilliant man , honest man , good man