American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
K. Owen Ash, PhD
1992 Outstanding Contributions Through Service to the Profession of Clinical Chemistry

K. Owen Ash received the 27th annual AACC Award for Outstanding Contributions Through Service to the Profession of Clinical Chemistry, sponsored by Instrumentation Laboratory.

Dr. Ash was trained as a biochemist. After completing research on bacterial photosynthesis, he received his Ph.D. in 1961 from Brigham Young University. His first professional position was with General Mills in Minneapolis, where he investigated the molecular formations of edible proteins. He moved on to Honeywell as a senior principal research scientist, studying molecular mechanisms of olfaction. In 1970 he entered the field of clinical chemistry when asked to develop chemistry methods for a Honeywell clinical analyzer.

Dr. Ash gained reference laboratory experience at A&M Clinical Laboratories in Chicago and at Bio-Science Laboratories in Van Nuys, CA. In 1975 he returned to academia as Director of Clinical Chemistry at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, became a diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry, and subsequently established the Commission on Accreditation in Clinical Chemistry (ComACC)-approved postdoctoral training program at the University of Utah, where he became a full professor in 1985.

He splits his duties between the university and the Associated Regional and University Pathologists (ARUP), formed in 1984. Dr. Ash is chief operations officer and executive vice president as well as a member of the Board of Directors at ARUP.

His combined hospital, academic, reference laboratory, and industrial interests are merged in his volunteer service to the profession of clinical chemistry. His commitment to chemistry research has resulted in more than 100 scientific publications plus many workshops and invitations to lecture. His publications work includes membership on the editorial boards of Clinica Chimica Acta, 1984–89, and Clinical Physiology and Biochemistry, 1983–89. His work for the College of American Pathologists inspection and accreditation teams for 12 years enhanced his understanding of the breadth of clinical chemistry practice.

Dr. Ash serves on the AACC Board of Directors (1991–93) and is Chairman of the Board of Editors of the Journal of the IFCC. He was this year’s Program Chairman for the Arnold O. Beckman Conference on preventive medicine. His other AACC duties include 1991 Executive Vice President Search Committee (member); Commission on Education and Scientific Affairs, 1988–90 (Chairman); 1989 National Meeting Review Task Force (member); 1987 National Meeting (General Chairman); Meetings Management Group, 1983–87 (member); Career Education Subcommittee, 1982–84 (member); and the National Committee on Local Sections, 1979–81 (member).

Dr. Ash has been equally engaged in activities of the Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists (ACLPS): ACLPS representative to the ComACC Board of Directors, Chairman of the Nominating and Awards Committee, 1987–88; President and President-Elect, 1985–87; Secretary–Treasurer, 1983–85; coeditor of the Academy Newsletter, 1979–83; and a member of the Executive Council, 1980–83. In 1989 he won the Gerald T. Evans Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service to the Academy.

Dr. Ash’s service also extends to the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry, where he was Chairman of the Board from 1986 to 1987 and was on the Board of Directors from 1986 to 1990.

Currently Dr. Ash is researching trace element analysis by using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and he directs a trace element service laboratory. As a tenured professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine, he teaches and consults with postdoctoral fellows, pathology residents, medical students, and medical technology students. He calls his family his “most important accomplishment” and has raised four children with his wife of 36 years.