James Ryan, MD, 1934-1999

February 3, 1999

James Warren Ryan, MD, 64, associate professor of clinical radiology and medicine at the University of Chicago, died at his Hyde Park home on February 2, 1999. The cause of death was cancer.

A specialist in nuclear medicine, particularly diagnostic studies of heart disease and the use of radiolabeled antibodies to detect the recurrence of cancers, Dr. Ryan was known as a meticulous and sensitive physician, a dedicated and disciplined clinical researcher, and an inspirational teacher.

"He was exquisitely intense and thorough in the evaluation of patients," said colleague Richard Reba, MD, professor of radiology at the University of Chicago. "He was careful and cautious, and nothing got by him. When he completed an exam, we all knew that he knew everything that could be known."

"He was so scrupulous that he could drive you mad," recalled Malcolm Cooper, MD, associate professor of radiology. "James Ryan was the most honest, ethical, upright, hard-working person you would ever want to meet. He would never deviate from his own personal standards, which were not at all easy to follow. That made him a wonderful clinical investigator, a respected teacher, and a cherished--if sometimes challenging--colleague."

Born April 9, 1934, in Twin Falls, Idaho, Ryan earned his AB in 1955 from the University of Montana and his MD in 1959 from Harvard Medical School, where he was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. He completed his internal medicine residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts in 1961.

Dr. Ryan then spent six years in the United States Army, as a physician and paratrooper. He served as a group surgeon for the 82nd Airborne Division and as an Instructor for the Special Forces Training Group in the U.S. and the Panama Canal Zone. While still in the military, he earned a master of public health degree from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, then began a four year epidemiology fellowship--also at Hopkins.

In 1970, Ryan joined the staff at Veterans Administration Hospital in Fort Howard, Maryland, where he soon became chief of nuclear medicine. He also taught at the University of Maryland Hospital, where he was assistant director of nuclear medicine from 1976 to 1978.

He came to the University of Chicago as an assistant professor of radiology in 1978, becoming director of nuclear medicine in 1982 and an associate professor in 1985. He briefly returned to active military duty in 1991, serving as a physician in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, where he won the Bronze Star for Service, before retiring with the rank of Colonel.

The author of more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, Ryan served on the editorial boards of several journals and was a founding member of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.

Dr. Ryan married Diana Havill, an administrator at the University of Chicago, in 1999. He is survived by one sister, Sr. Janet Ryan, SNJM, of Portland, Oregon. A memorial mass will be held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 5742 S. Kimbark Avenue, at 10 a.m. on Friday, February 5, 1999. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be sent either to the University of Chicago Section of Nuclear Medicine, 5841 S. Maryland Ave, Chicago, IL 60637 or to The Sisters of the Holy Name Educational Fund, Box 25, Marylhurst, OR 97036.

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