August 31st 2014

Death of Emeritus Fellow Dr. Kaye H. Kilburn, MD, 7 August 2014

Collegium Ramazzini Emeritus Fellow Dr. Kaye H. Kilburn, MD passed away on 7 August 2014 at the age of 82 from complications of a stroke he suffered 12 July. Dr. Kilburn was one of the earliest members of the Collegium Ramazzini, elected in 1983. He and his wife of 60 years, Gerri, were regular attendees at the annual Ramazzini Days meeting in Carpi, Italy.

Born and raised in Utah, Kilburn graduated from the University of Utah College of Medicine in 1954, the same year he married Gerrie. He completed postgraduate training in internal medicine during his internship at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio followed by a residency in Medicine and Pathology at University of Utah Hospitals and a fellowship in cardio-pulmonary disease at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

In 1958 he developed a cardiopulmonary research laboratory with a staff of 15 at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Nutritional Laboratory at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver, Colorado. He returned to Duke Hospital in 1963 to organize and head the medical service of the Durham Veterans Administration. A new and novel division of Environmental Medicine was developed and organized by Dr. Kilburn at Duke from 1968-73. The epidemiology of textile workers? lung disease (byssinosis) was pursued in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Health and Burlington Industries, the textile giant.

In 1973, Dr. Kilburn went to the University of Missouri-Columbia to establish its first pulmonary and environmental medicine program. In 1977, he returned to society?s environmental and occupational medicine frontier by joining Dr. Irving J. Selikoff in the Environmental Sciences Laboratory at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Among his roles was the development of ?mechanisms of diseases? laboratories to complement Selikoff?s epidemiological laboratories.

In 1980, Dr. Kilburn accepted the Ralph Edgington Chair in Medicine at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, a position he held until retirement in 2006. In August of 1980, he founded the Barlow-USC Occupational Health Center as a clinical center for the investigation of the adverse health effects of environmental agents. The Pulmonary Division at USC School of Medicine and Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, with its responsibilities for education, research and patient care, came under Dr. Kilburn?s direction in July, 1982. In 1987 Kilburn also founded his own practice, Neuro-Test Inc., to study neurobehavioral and pulmonary impairment as a result of exposure to common chemicals: mold, hydrogen sulfide, diesel, pesticides, and insecticides.

Kilburn published three books and more than 250 scientific papers. He was an editor of the Archives of Environmental Health from 1973 and editor in chief from 1980 to 2006. His work with cotton dust helped set the modern standard for respiratory care and testing. Kilburn?s work was included in a 1986 U.S. Surgeon General?s Report that helped changed the way the USA views tobacco use, leading to warning on cigarette packs.

While working at USC, Kilburn teamed with county officials and designed and built a van to provide services, such as tuberculosis testing, throughout the county, especially focusing on Downtown Los Angeles. He also studied chemical exposures at work sites, schools, and other facilities. Most recently, he had been studying the effects of hydrogen sulfide gas emanating from a Hawaiian volcano on the local community.

Kaye?s personal interests included painting, Civil War history, travel and debate. In addition to Gerrie, Kilburn is survived by two brothers, Kent and Keith, two daughters, Ann Ingram and Jean Lacob, son Scott Kilburn and four grandchildren.



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