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Richard W. Stow, PhD

1989 Outstanding Contributions in a Selected Area of Research

Richard W. Stow will receive the 17th AACC Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry in a Selected Area of Research. The award is sponsored by Roche Diagnostic Systems.

Dr. Stow was born in Medina, OH, in 1916. He received his B.S. degree from Michigan State College in 1937, an M.S. degree from Pennsylvania State College in 1940, and the Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1953. His doctoral research was in the development of a rapid analyzer for carbon dioxide and investigations of respiratory physiology. He was a Fellow in biophysics at the Mayo Foundation at Rochester, MN, while conducting this work. In 1952–1953 he was a first assistant at the Mayo Foundation and carried out experimental and theoretical studies of cardiorespiratory physiology.

Dr. Stow joined the faculty of the Department of Physical Medicine at The Ohio State University in 1953 and soon thereafter undertook the development of a pCO2 electrode for measuring the pCO2of blood and other body fluids. At that time, estimation of the pCO2of blood involved determination of the pH, the CO2content (with the Van Slyke apparatus), and a calculation based on the Henderson–Hasselbalch equation. The essential idea about a pCO2electrode was to separate blood from water by a semipermeable membrane that would allow the passage of CO2 but prevent the passage of electrolytes and other components of blood. Then, at equilibrium, a measurement of the pH of the water would yield the essential datum for a calculation of the pCO2of the blood. However, in the interest of minimizing the time required to establish equilibrium, the amount of water had to be minimized. At that time, only separate glass and reference electrodes were commercially available. Incorporating both electrodes in a single pencil format minimized the film of water. Stow, a skilled glass blower, was able to form the pair in a single unit. Rubber was a suitable semipermeable membrane. In this form, the device worked as intended.

During the period 1957–60, Dr. Stow worked with Dr. James Schieve on thermal measurement of blood flow in small volumes of tissue. This work required fabrication of very sensitive needle thermometers. After one year as a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Tehran, Dr. Stow developed methods for measuring capillary blood flow. This work led to studies of the electrical impedance of small metal electrodes and the impedance of tissue to brief, high-intensity electrical pulses.

Throughout his years at Ohio State, Dr. Stow gave considerable time and attention to the design and construction of electronic instruments for use in physiology and medicine. For many years he taught a course in electronic instrumentation in the Department of Physiology and assisted faculty and students with questions on instrumentation.