Walter H. Abelmann, M.D.
Walter H. Abelmann, M.D. (M ’46), professor of medicine emeritus at Harvard Medical School and member of the faculty of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences Technology, died on Jan. 6. A resident of Cambridge, Mass., he was 89.
Dr. Abelmann’s research focused on the physiology and the pathophysiology of the cardiovascular system, and led to the recognition and definition of the high cardiac output states in patients with cirrhosis of the liver, bacterial pneumonia, disorders of the blood, and nutritional deficiencies.
He published more than 260 scientific papers and edited several books. In addition, Dr. Abelmann was a consultant to several Boston-area hospitals and universities.
At Harvard, Dr. Abelmann taught basic as well as clinical courses, including pathophysiology, physical diagnosis, internal medicine, and cardiology. He also introduced a system of evaluating courses. His teaching rounds stressed the mechanisms of disease, the underlying scientific basis of manifestations, and of therapy.
He was known for forming close relationships with many of his postgraduate students and fellows, and was very proud of the leadership positions they attained. Many of the 68 fellows he trained in clinical and investigative cardiology became professors, chiefs of cardiology and heads of cardiovascular societies.
In retirement, Dr. Abelmann taught a popular undergraduate seminar at MIT called “The Art and Science of Medicine,” edited the newsletter The Connection, and, until 2006, was director of alumni affairs for Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences Technology.
Dr. Abelmann, who was born in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, immigrated to the United States in 1939. He received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1943.
Dr. Abelmann is survived by his wife, Rena, sons, Arthur Abelmann and Charles Abelmann, daughters Nancy Abelmann, Ruth Abelmann, and Karen Gross, and nine grandchildren.
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