John W. Eckstein


Honorary Degree (1995)
Doctor of Science
Location: Indianapolis
Presenter: Myles Brand


As physician, teacher, researcher, and administrator, John Eckstein has embodied the highest ideals of the healing profession. Under his leadership as dean of the University of Iowa College of Medicine for two decades, the college has risen to the top ranks of American medical schools.

A native of Iowa, John Eckstein served in the US Army Air Force during World War II and graduated from Loras College in 1946 and the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1950. After completing his internal medicine residency at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco and the University of Iowa Hospitals, he received an academic appointment at the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1953. He rose through the faculty ranks, becoming full professor in 1965 and assuming the deanship in 1970. A prolific researcher, Eckstein has also made major contributions to the field of clinical cardiovascular physiology and is the author of 117 scientific papers. He has held appointments from the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Heart Association, and the National Heart Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Eckstein is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He has also devoted many years of service to the medical profession through work on scores of committees and has held positions of leadership in the American Medical Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the American Heart Association, among others. In 1979 he served as president of the American Heart Association. Eckstein has received many honors throughout his career, including top awards from the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association. For his outstanding contributions to the University of Iowa Medical Center and to the field of medicine, he was honored in 1982, with the naming of the John W. Eckstein Cardiovascular Research Wing of the University of Iowa Cardiovascular Center and in 1988, with the naming of the university's John W. Eckstein Medical Research Building.

According to Arnold S. Relman, MD, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School, Eckstein fostered "an environment that attracted many outstanding medical investigators, teachers, and scholars to Iowa. In turn," says Relman, "the college has produced many young physicians who have distinguished themselves in academic medicine." John Eckstein has been a good friend to Indiana University, providing valuable counsel over the past decade, serving on the Advisory Committee for the IU School of Medicine and the Council to Analyze the IU Statewide Medical Education System, among other committees.

Eckstein, who became dean emeritus of the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1993, is often praised by other medical school deans as a role model in the areas of administration, education, biomedical research, and the practice of medicine. Roger J. Bulger, president of the Association of Academic Health Centers, notes that Eckstein "has maintained the qualities of a healer's personality throughout his life as academician and administrator. His integrity, candor, and sensitivity to other people and to complex issues have combined with his good sense and leadership skills to develop a growing band of professionals who were taught and mentored by him, whether they be researchers, practicing physicians, or academic administrators."