American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
Robert S. Melville, PhD
1976 Outstanding Contributions Through Service to the Profession of Clinical Chemistry

Robert S. Melville will receive the 1976 (eleventh) AACC Award for Outstanding Contributions Through Service to Clinical Chemistry as a Profession, sponsored by the Fisher Scientific Co.

Dr. Melville, originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, received his A.B. from Clark University and his Ph.D. degree from the State University of Iowa. Before joining the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in 1965, where he has served as Chief of the Automated Clinical Laboratory Section in the Biomedical Engineering Program since 1968, Dr. Melville progressed from research chemist at Massachusetts General Hospital to Chief Biochemist at St. Luke’s Hospital, Chicago, via the Department of Biochemistry at the State University of Iowa, where he was a research assistant. He was also with the Veterans Administration for several years, where he served as chief biochemist at the VA Hospital in Iowa City and in the Central Office in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Melville has been active in the AACC for the past 25 years. He was its president in 1970–71, and has been a diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Chemists since 1952. He received the Joseph H. Roe Award in 1972 from the Capital Section, AACC. This award, sponsored by the American Instrument Co., is presented in recognition of contributions in the field of clinical chemistry.

Dr. Melville has a sustained record of unique contributions to the field of clinical chemistry, especially in recent years, which have by themselves greatly enhanced recognition of clinical chemistry and its standing as a separate discipline. Three of these many accomplishments deserve special mention. As Chief Biochemist of the Veterans Administrations, Dr. Melville instituted policies and practices relating to clinical chemistry that endure to this day and that have done much to strengthen staffing and operational patterns in the clinical laboratory services of VA Hospitals all over the country.

Dr. Melville’s outstanding contribution to the field of laboratory science is the major role he has played in the creation of a national program for the automation of clinical laboratories, in particular clinical chemistry laboratories. In 1968, he helped begin the national program on automated clinical laboratory sciences at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH, and established the Automation in the Medical Laboratory Sciences Review Committee, which has reviewed and recommended funding of several of the most outstanding practical developments in the field. These include the Standard Reference Materials Program at the National Bureau of Standards, the development of the gemsaec centrifugal analyzer in collaboration with the Atomic Energy Commission at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and (at an earlier time) the review of training and fellowship grants in clinical chemistry. The overall effect has been to interest many highly qualified young scientists in this important field. In addition, with Dr. Charles D. Scott of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dr. Melville originated and has co-chaired the annual Oak Ridge Symposia on Advanced Analytical Concepts for the Clinical Laboratory. Now in their eighth year, these symposia provide a major forum for the interchange of ideas between basic and clinical laboratory scientists and members of the industrial sector.

Dr. Melville has been a highly effective and stabilizing influence in the provision of credentials for clinical chemists for some years. A founder of the National Registry in Clinical Chemistry and its immediate past-president, he has helped to develop and expand that program for more than 1000 persons working in clinical chemistry laboratories. As a director and current vice president of the American Board of Clinical Chemistry, he has also participated in the formulation of policies and practices that have greatly expanded and extended the peer system of providing credentials at the top of the profession through certification of ABCC diplomates.

In addition to his activities in clinical chemistry, Dr. Melville is a senior member of the Instrument Society of America, a member of the Association for Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the American Chemical Society, Sigma XI, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Gamma Alpha, and the American Society of Biomedical Engineering.

1970 AACC Past President’s Award

Robert Melville, PhD served as AACC president in 1969-70. He has the distinction of being the longest serving AACC president because he served when the association changed from mid-year appointments tied to the annual meeting to calendar year appointments that started in January. During this transition, Dr. Melville served as president for 18 months.