Abraham Morris Rudolph (1924-)
Abraham Morris Rudolph, MD is a renowned pediatric cardiologist and professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine who has been a key contributor to the care of premature infants and infants with congenital heart disease.
Rudolph was born in 1924 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He entered medical school at the University of. the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 1941, graduating summa cum laude with a MD, BCh degree in 1946. He worked as an instructor in anatomy for a brief period, and after his internship in internal medicine and surgery, he decided to become a pediatrician, and did his pediatric training at the Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children. After a year of additional study in the UK, he returned to South Africa where he wrote his thesis on hemophilia and obtained his MD degree.
After applying to several institutions in the US for additional training, he accepted a position at Children’s Hospital of Boston in pediatric cardiology under Dr. Alexander Nadas in 1951. After a stint at Harvard Medical School studying physiology, he returned to Boston Children’s in 1955 as head of the cardiac catheterization laboratory and set up his own animal laboratory. Within just a few years he participated in a number of important clinical studies involving various congenital diseases of the heart.
At that time, the vast majority of deaths due to congenital heart lesions happened in the first few months of life, which convinced Rudolph of the need to catheterize infants, and he began to do this in 1956. The techniques developed by Rudolph and his colleague Dr. Glen Cayler were soon adopted throughout the field. Neonatologists particularly remember him for his interest in premature infants, he was the first to catheterize infants with respiratory distress syndrome and describe the large left-to-right shunt that can be seen in severe RDS through the patent ductus arteriosus.
In 1965, Rudolph and several of his colleagues and fellows moved to the University of California at San Francisco, and perfected a microsphere method of measuring total and regional blood flow and vascular resistances, a method that is still used today. He went on to study ductus physiology and pharmacology, and published an article in 1972 on the ductus’ response to oxygen and vasoactive substances. These ultimately led to the use of indomethacin to close the ductus as an alternative to surgery, and prostaglandin E to keep it open for babies with ductus-dependent congenital heart disease.
Rudolph has published prolifically, and his textbook “Congenital Diseases of the Heart: Clinical-Physiological Considerations,” first published in 1974, has become a standard reference in the field. He edited the highly successful general pediatric text “Rudolph’s Pediatrics” as well as the companion “Rudolph’s Fundamentals of Pediatrics,” contributed or co-authored many other textbooks, participated in many national councils and served on the editorial boards of several scientific publications. He served as chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at UCSF from 1986-1991, and was elected to a term as president of the American Pediatric Society in 1992. He has received many honors and awards during his career, including election to the National Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the Founders Award and the Lifetime Teaching Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Merit Award of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the Arvo Yllpo Medal from the Helsinki Institute.
Rudolph became a Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at UCSF in 1994.