Abbas E. Kitabchi ’54
Endocrinologist, medical researcher, and educator Abbas E. Kitabchi ’54 died in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 18, 2016, at age 82.
He was born in Tehran, Iran, and came to the United States as a student at age 17. He was the first of his family to immigrate and was followed by numerous family members. He knew from his youth that he wanted to be a physician, which led him to earn a bachelor’s degree from Cornell College. He went on to earn a master’s degree, a doctorate, and a medical degree at the University of Oklahoma. After completing a fellowship in endocrinology at the University of Washington in Seattle, he moved to Memphis, where he was chief of staff for research and education at the Veterans Administration Hospital and later as director of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism, and director of the clinical research center at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center. A professor of medicine and molecular sciences, he served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on four multicenter National Institutes of Health studies.
Kitabchi taught and lectured worldwide. His pioneering work on diabetic ketoacidosis and its treatment using low-dose insulin led to what has become the standard therapy for the condition and is credited with reducing mortality rates from 15 percent to 1 percent.
He is survived by his wife, Lynn, four daughters, two step-daughters, a brother and a sister, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.