Sept. 30, 1993
Vol. 13, No. 3

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    Leon Resnekov, Medicine

    Leon Resnekov, the Frederick H. Rawson Professor of Medicine, died Aug. 17 at Bernard Mitchell Hospital. He was 65. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

    An eminent cardiologist and a distinguished physician and teacher, Resnekov participated in the early studies on the use of electrical shock to restore the heart's normal rhythm after atrial fibrillation. He was also involved in the very early applications of nuclear medicine to the imaging of the heart, and he wrote a landmark review paper in 1978 cataloging the sounds produced by, and the radiological appearance of, all prosthetic heart valves.

    Resnekov was a highly respected researcher and the author or co-author of more than 300 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He was characterized as an unforgettable teacher and a thoughtful and understanding physician who looked after many of his colleagues.

    "Leon Resnekov was the consummate clinical cardiologist, teacher and mentor who gave his patients extraordinary care by combining expert knowledge with humanism and wonderful support," said Arthur Rubenstein, Chairman and the Lowell T. Coggeshall Professor of Medicine. "For the Section of Cardiology, the Department of Medicine and the University of Chicago, he will be irreplaceable in a very real sense."

    "Leon Resnekov's distinction as a diagnostic cardiologist earned the admiration of his colleagues here and around the nation," said Godfrey Getz, Acting Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine and Chairman of Pathology. "I was his patient for 22 years, and he was incredibly devoted to me and to all of his patients."

    According to Jeffrey Leiden, Professor in Medicine and Section Chief of Cardiology, "Leon was among the most distinguished academic cardiologists both nationally and internationally. His unique combination of clinical acumen and teaching skills with an extraordinary compassion for his patients made him an inspiration to all of our faculty and fellows."

    "Leon was the epitome of the bedside cardiologist," added colleague Rory Childers, Professor in Medicine. "He was trained in the British tradition of clinical cardiology, making the maximum use of non-invasive tests and stressing the importance of taking a careful medical history and listening to the patient's heart, rather than turning too soon to a battery of technological interventions."

    A native of South Africa, Resnekov earned a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery degree (the South African equivalent of the American M.D.) in 1951 and a doctorate in medicine (the equivalent of a Ph.D.) in 1965 from the University of Cape Town. He served a professorial internship at Cape Town University Groote Schuur Hospital in 1952 and received further training at River Hospitals in Dartford, England, and at Kings College Hospitals, London. His primary cardiology training came at the National Heart Hospital, Institute of Cardiology, in London, where he studied with Paul Wood, considered by many the "grandfather of bedside cardiology." In 1967, he was awarded a research fellowship in clinical physiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

    Resnekov came to Chicago in 1967 as Associate Professor and served as Director of the University's Myocardial Infarction Research Unit, one of the first such units in the country to focus on alterations in blood flow after a heart attack. He became Professor in 1971 and served for 10 years as Co-Director of the Section of Cardiology. From 1975 to 1980, he served as Director of the University's Specialized Center for Research in Ischemic Heart Disease.

    In recognition of Resnekov's extraordinary contribution as a role model in caring for patients, Ralph Muller, President of the University of Chicago Hospitals, has created the Leon Resnekov Fellowship in Clinical Cardiology, to support young physicians training for careers in cardiology.

    Resnekov is survived by his wife, Carmella; a daughter, Orna; and a son, Dean.

    Resnekov's remains have been donated to science. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Leon Resnekov Cardiovascular Teaching Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center, c/o the Section of Cardiology, MC 6080, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, Chicago, Ill. 60637.