(2015) The Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes outstanding service benefiting the community, the practice of medicine, and the provision of health care.
With this award, the Alumni Association honored an icon in the field of pulmonology, Robert Frederic Grover, MD ’55.
Early in his career, Grover recognized that little was known about pulmonary circulation and the impact of atmospheric hypoxia in high-elevation communities. In 1960, he was the first person to document the existence of significant pulmonary hypertension in normal, healthy, high-altitude residents in Colorado.
When Grover heard about cardiologists in Peru who observed pulmonary hypertension in the Andean natives living at 15,000 feet, he traveled there to examine data from heart catheterization and he wondered if this same phenomenon might exist in Leadville, Colorado, the highest-elevation city in the United States.
Grover shared the Peruvian data with the head of cardiology at the School of Medicine, and recommended a clinical investigation of residents in Leadville.
Grover and his colleagues documented that pulmonary hypertension was a normal response to ambient atmospheric hypoxia at Leadville’s altitude. From 1965 to 1982, Grover trained some 60 research fellows from around the world, including cardiologists, internal medicine specialists, pediatricians, engineers, pulmonologists, even anthropologists.
Since 2000, the American Thoracic Society has annually awarded the Robert F. Grover Prize for outstanding contributions to the study of the effects of hypoxia and high altitude on the pulmonary circulation.
When Grover retired 30 years ago, his colleagues established The Grover Conference on the Pulmonary Circulation, a biennial five-day conference.