Kurt M. Dubowski, PhD
1996 Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry

Kurt Dubowski received his A.B. in chemistry from New York University and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering, chemistry, and medical sciences from Ohio State University, where his doctoral dissertation was on blood-alcohol analysis. He directed clinical chemistry and toxicology laboratories at community teaching hospitals in Norwalk, CT, and Des Moines, IA, before entering upon a distinguished career in academic health sciences centers. He joined the faculty of the University of Florida (UF) in 1958 as associate professor of clinical chemistry and director of clinical laboratories at the UF Teaching Hospital and Clinics. At UF, he also organized and chaired the second academic department of medical technology to be established in the US. Since 1961, he has served on the medical faculty of the University of Oklahoma (UO), where he is now George Lynn Cross Distinguished Professor of Medicine, professor of pathology, and director of toxicology laboratories and forensic science laboratories. His UO administrative duties include an appointment as the Executive for Faculty Affairs of the Department of Medicine.

Dubowski’s career has combined the twin areas of medical science and forensic science since his first appointments in 1950 as Norwalk police chemist and scientific investigator with the Fairfield County, CT, Coroner. His forensic science career includes a five-year term as the first state criminalist of Iowa and a triplet of official Oklahoma state positions since the 1960s: Chairman of the Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence; State Director of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence; and Scientific Director of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety/Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Along the way, he also founded the toxicology laboratory of the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office and the forensic laboratory system of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation—both now independent units.

Dubowski’s research interests and contributions have been in both medical and forensic sciences, encompassing development of innovative methodology, human studies, and clinical and forensic applications of chemistry and toxicology reflected in 160 publications. He was a member of the country’s third team to perform open-heart surgery on human patients. He was a charter member of the 7-member US Public Health Service task force, which in 1957 established the National Poison Control Center network. His o-toluidine method for body fluid glucose determination, developed in 1961, became for the next decade the most widely used clinical chemistry procedure worldwide. It was the first Reference Method adopted by the FDA in regulating clinical chemistry reagents under the Medical Device Amendments Act of 1976. His 1962 article in Clinical Chemistry describing the method became a “citation classic” and is one of the most widely cited publications in the field of clinical chemistry. In the 1970s, he headed the fourth research team authorized by the FDA to conduct human studies on cannabis (marijuana); that work led to several articles in the New England Journal of Medicine.

An article in the Journal of Forensic Sciences by Mason and Dubowski on the forensic aspects of breath-alcohol analysis became another citation classic. Methods for blood- and tissue-alcohol analysis developed by him have been used by the laboratories of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Texas Rangers, and the Sûreté Nationale of France, and by numerous clinical and public health laboratories.

In the past 25 years, his research and other professional efforts have focused chiefly on behavioral toxicology and drugs of abuse. He organized and chaired the 1987 AACC Beckman Conference on drug abuse in the workplace. He was active in developing federal workplace drug testing regulations and in creating the DHHS National Laboratory Certification Program and was a charter member of the DHHS Drug Testing Advisory Board. The federal government’s recent regulation of workplace alcohol testing led to his monograph on “The Technology of Breath-Alcohol Analysis,” written at the request of and published in 1992 by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, with more than 50 000 copies in print. The international OIML Recommendations on Evidential Breath Analyzers issued in April 1996, with the US a signatory, specify that in calibrating these devices “the concentration of ethanol in the air is given by Dubowski’s formula…” He developed the AACC-CAP Blood and Serum Alcohol Survey programs and continues to evaluate them on CAP’s Toxicology Resource Committee.

Dubowski’s teaching career spans 50 years. He has taught at all levels, from undergraduate students in the health professions to graduate students and postdoctoral scientists, and to senior medical faculty, as well as practicing physicians, lawyers, and judges. His former students include a DHHS Assistant Secretary for Health—the country’s top federal physician—many faculty members, several deans, and a university president.

A member of AACC since 1950, Dubowski has chaired or been a member of numerous committees and task forces, including that for the Revision of the Code of Ethics (1990). He served three times on the Board of Directors, was the Association Secretary, and was President of the AACC in 1985. He also chaired the Midwest and Texas sections of AACC, and for more than 25 years was the Parliamentarian of the Council and the House of Delegates. He has been a member of the editorial board of Clinical Chemistry. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry (in Clinical Chemistry and Toxicological Chemistry) and is Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus and President-Emeritus of the Board. He was founding Vice President of NRCC and was instrumental in creating ComACC.

Dubowski has been a frequent consultant to industry, universities, and the federal and state governments, serving such agencies as the Executive Office of the President of the US, CDC, FDA, NIDA, National Bureau of Standards, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute of Justice. He is currently a consultant to the Department of Defense Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and is a member of AFIP’s Scientific Advisory Board.

His awards include the AACC Award for Outstanding Contribution through Service to the Profession of Clinical Chemistry (1973) and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Capital University (1984). He is also a Widmark Laureate of the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs, and Traffic Safety (1980).

1985 AACC Past President’s Award

Kurt Dubowski, PhD served as AACC president in 1985.

1973 Outstanding Contributions Through Service to the Profession of Clinical Chemistry

Kurt M. Dubowski will receive the 1973 AACC Award for Outstanding Services by a Clinical Chemist to the Benefit of Clinical Chemistry as a Profession, sponsored by the Fisher Scientific Company.

Dr. Dubowski has served as Chairman of both the Midwest and Texas Sections of AACC, on the AACC Board of Directors, as a member of the Council, as a member-at-large of the National Executive Committee, on the Nominating Committee, the Committee on Standards and Controls, the Education Committee, and since 1964 on the Committee on Legislation and is currently chairman of its successor, the Committee on Professional Relations. He has served as the AACC delegate to the Intersociety Committee on Health Laboratory Services since 1970.

In addition to monitoring legislation related to the practice of clinical chemistry, Dr. Dubowski has been actively engaged in promoting the American Board of Clinical Chemistry and has served as the Secretary-Treasurer since 1958. He is a diplomate of the ABCC in both Clinical Chemistry and Toxicological Chemistry. Involved in organizing the National Registry in Clinical Chemistry, he also served as Vice-President of the Registry from 1967–69.

Dr. Dubowski received the Ph.D. in chemistry and toxicology from Ohio State University and presently is Professor of Biochemistry and of Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology, University College of Medicine, Oklahoma City; Director of Toxicology Laboratories, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City; Consultant in Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology, Veterans Administration Hospital, Oklahoma City; Consultant in Laboratory Medicine, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation; State Director of Chemical Tests for Alcoholic Influence for the state of Oklahoma; and Consultant, Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention, Executive Office of the President of the United States.

His numerous other activities include membership on the editorial boards of the Journal of Forensic Sciences and the International Microform Journal of Legal Medicine.

Among other honors he has received the 1973 Award of Merit from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and, in May, a Certificate of Honor from the New Jersey Section of the AACC, for his many contributions on behalf of clinical chemists and the science of clinical chemistry.

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