American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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Obituary

From the November ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 2002 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

Robert M. Kark, MACP

Robert M. Kark, MACP, FRCP, a pioneer in nutrition and renal disease diagnosis, died Sept. 24, 2002. He was 91 years old.

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1911, Dr. Kark received his medical degree from Guy's Hospital in London in 1935. After completing his residency there in 1938, Dr. Kark was a Rockefeller traveling fellow, Adrian Stokes memorial fellow and research fellow in medicine at the Harvard Medical School from 1938 to 1941.

During his fellowship at Harvard, Dr. Kark made a name for himself in the field of nutrition. While working at the fatigue lab at Boston City Hospital in 1938, he helped discover vitamin K and worked on fortifying bread with B vitamins.

During World War II, Dr. Kark led a group that tested food resources for Allied troops. His research led to the development of the famous K rations, the standard ration for Allied troops. During the war, Dr. Kark put his nutritional skills to use in Burma, where he gathered intelligence behind enemy lines about the fighting readiness of Japanese troops.

After the war, Dr. Kark became an expert in kidney diagnosis and did pioneering work on renal biopsies at the University of Illinois during the 1950s. He also taught at Rush Medical School at Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital in the late 1950s.

A true renaissance man, Dr. Kark also researched the history of internal medicine, invented the single-pane aviator's goggle, proved that a land invasion over the Arctic Circle was implausible, foiled a sabotage attempt on Winston Churchill's life, supported civil rights and integration at a segregated medical school in Tennessee during the 1940s, and was an avid rugby player, swimmer and fisherman.

Dr. Kark became a Fellow of the College in 1949. He served as Governor for the Northern/Upstate Illinois Chapter from 1972-1976 and as Regent from 1976-1981. While a Regent, Dr. Kark chaired the Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Ethics and served on the Credentials, Nominations and International Committees. He was awarded Mastership in 1982.

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