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Alexander D. Kenny Biography

Alexander D. Kenny, Ph.D., D.Sc.(1925-1994)

On April 7, 1994, Alex died in Cincinnati, Ohio while taking his wife of forty-four years, Dot, to her fiftieth nursing school reunion. Always young at heart, Alex and Dot drove their new Volvo to the town in which they met. Unfortunately, Alex's heart was not up to the journey. He will be missed not only by his wife and four children, but also by his many colleagues and students with whom he shared his excitement for science and life.

Alex was born March 4, 1925 in London, England. He attended Imperial College, University of London from 1941 to 1945, participating part time in the defense of Britain as a member of the British Home Guard, Chelsea Company. After the war and graduation, Alex moved to Cincinnati, where he attended St. Thomas Institute for Advance Studies, Athenaeum of Ohio, and met his future bride Dorothy M. LeTang. In 1950 Alex received his Ph.D. and married Dot.

After completing his Ph.D., he accepted a position as a senior chemist at University College Hospital, London. He returned to the US the following year as Chief of the Chemistry Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1952, he became an Instructor in Dental Science at Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Within two years he was an Instructor in the Department of Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School where he remained until 1959. One of his fondest memories from Harvard was his interaction with Otto Krayer who was somewhat of a mentor to Alex with regards to teaching Medical students and research. Subsequently, he became an Associate Professor of Pharmacology at West Virginia University Medical Center. The following seven years were very productive for Alex and he was promoted to Professor.

In 1967, he was awarded a USPHS Special Fellowship to study at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London. Upon his return to the states, Alex accepted the position of Professor of Pharmacology and Investigator at the Space Science Research Center (currently the Dalton Research Center) at the University of Missouri in Columbia. After Seven years in Missouri, he joined the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Texas Medical Branch for two years before arriving in 1976 at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, where he became Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology. He served in this capacity until 1993 when he turned the reins of the Department over to Louis A. Chiodo.

Alex's research interests centered on endocrine aspects of avian and mammalian calcium homeostasis including, but not limited to, parathyroid hormone, calcitonin, vitamin D, and the role of carbonic anhydrase in bone metabolism. These studies were funded continuously by NIH for 32 years (1955-1987) as well as periodically by other agencies. Alex published 85 manuscripts in refereed journals, 136 abstracts, and 55 other monographs, chapters and symposia. His research leadership in the field of Endocrinology was formally recognized in 1982 when he was awarded the D.Sc. from the University of London.

Alex belonged to several British and American learned societies and was elected to membership in ASPET in 1959 during which time he served on the Committee on Educational and Professional Affairs(1974-1977); Subcommittee on Pre- and Postdoctoral Training (1974-1977); and the Long Range Planning Committee (1989-1991).

As a medical educator, Alex always stressed that the Medical Pharmacology course was the Department's first priority. He felt the need to lead off the course each year, personally teaching Principles of Pharmacology. He also insisted that, unlike most Medical Pharmacology courses throughout the country, Endocrine Pharmacology be taught before Autonomic Pharmacology. During his career, he mentored twelve graduate students. These were his "academic children" whose careers he followed with great pride. In addition, he felt that the development of faculty in his department was a primary responsibility. Alex often said that his job was to identify the worth and value of each faculty member and to recognize the individual contributions each made. Dollars were not as important to him as was the pursuit of scholarly accomplishment. He took great pride in watching three of his faculty leave Texas Tech to Chair Departments at other institutions.

Finally, Alex was the quidessential family man. His wife, Dot, was his best friend, and the education of his four children was paramount in his list of priorities. Indeed, he often expressed concern to his faculty that they not neglect their families.

As a scientist, educator, and human being, Alex was one of a vanishing breed. While his sincerity and integrity often got him into trouble, he enriched the lives of all he met. He will be missed.

Prepared by
Thomas E. Tenner, Jr.