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Dr. Aubrey Elmo Taylor, emeritus professor and chair of physiology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, passed away on Dec. 23, 2015. He was 82.
Dr. Taylor was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up in Bryson, Texas; Ventura and Oxnard, California; and Fort Worth, Texas, where he graduated from Paschal High School. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1953-1955, Dr. Taylor earned his bachelor of arts degree in mathematics and psychology from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.
He completed a National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Fellowship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and earned his Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson, Miss., training with Professor Arthur Guyton. His first faculty appointment as an assistant professor was in that same department. He then moved to Professor A.K. Solomon's Biophysical Laboratory at Harvard University for postdoctoral training in membrane transport and nonequilibrium thermodynamics under the guidance of Professor Peter Curran.
In 1967 he returned to the University of Mississippi School of Medicine as an associate professor of physiology and was later appointed professor of physiology. It was here that he started encouraging young clinicians to use his laboratory to train in basic research, a tradition that he continued.
While at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Taylor developed an interest in both medical and graduate education, serving as director of the physiology department's graduate program.
In 1977 Dr. Taylor was appointed professor and chair of the physiology department at USA. In 1993 he was appointed the Louise Lenoir Locke Eminent Scholars Chair, Distinguished Professor of Physiology at USA.
“His appointment as chair brought stability and notoriety to the position,” said Dr. Samuel J. Strada, dean of the USA College of Medicine. “His laboratory served as a fertile training ground for a number of postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty interested in the physiology of microcirculation, many of whom have gone on to have distinguished careers of their own. His leadership and stature contributed to a long tradition of excellence in basic science research evident since the inception of USA’s College of Medicine.”
Dr. Taylor's research spanned several areas of cardiopulmonary physiology. His early work focused primarily on theory and mechanisms regulating capillary transport of solutes and water in the microcirculation of lung, gastrointestinal tract, skeletal muscle, and subcutaneous tissue. His later studies focused on oxygen radical and leukocyte involvement in ischemia-reperfusion injury in lung and brain, and mechanisms regulating lung vascular resistance in health and disease.
In 2005, Dr. Taylor received the American Heart Association (AHA) Award of Meritorious Achievement for his work leading to the development of a position paper, “Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Cardiovascular Disease,” which was published in 1992 in Circulation, an AHA publication, and his advocacy on behalf of the AHA’s position regarding environmental smoke and cardiovascular disease. The position paper, which reviewed the current scientific and medical data on second-hand smoke, confirmed AHA’s position that second-hand smoke is a major preventable cause of cardiovascular disease. Throughout 1992 and 1993, he held news conferences, spoke to AHA affiliate and local divison boards and the Alabama Governor’s Health Conference on the impact of environmental smoke. In 1994, he testified to Congressional Subcommittees on environmental smoke and heart disease.
In addition to his work with AHA, Dr. Taylor was successful in a wide range of medical and scientific endeavors. He was president of both the American Physiological Society (1988-89) and the Microcirculatory Society (1981-83), and chaired the AHA Council on (then) Cardiopulmonary and Critical Care (1995-97). In 1999, he received the American Thoracic Society Classics in Physiology Award from the American Thoracic Society and the Cannon Award from the American Physiological Society. He also received the Landis Award from the Microcirculatory Society, the Lucian Award from McGill University, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Chairman of Departments of Physiology, among others. He was elected as Fellow of two American Heart Association Councils and the American Physiological Society.
During his career, Dr. Taylor mentored 15 predoctoral graduate students and 20 postdoctoral fellows, making an impact on each one’s professional development.
“I was fortunate to train with Dr. Taylor as a postdoctoral fellow and to work as a faculty member in his department,” said Dr. Mary Townsley, professor of physiology and associate dean for faculty affairs at the USA College of Medicine. “Aubrey led and mentored by example. He instilled in his trainees enthusiasm for science, the work ethic needed for success, and the practice of volunteering time to the scientific community.”
Dr. Taylor published more than 700 scientific publications, book chapters and abstracts and served as associate editor of the Journal of Applied Physiology, the Journal of Critical Care, and Clinical Sciences. He served on numerous editorial boards, including the American Journal of Physiology, the Journal of Applied Physiology, the International Journal of Pathophysiology, the Chinese Journal of Physiology and the Journal of Biomedical Science, among others.
Dr. Taylor was a member of multiple professional organizations such as the American Physiology Society, American Heart Association, American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the American Lung Association.
Dr. Taylor is survived by his wife, Jane Davis Taylor; and his children, Audrey Jane Hildebrand (Price), Lenda Sue Taylor, and Mary Ann Taylor.
A memorial service will be held for Dr. Taylor at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Taylor-Davis Scholarship in Physiology at the USA College of Medicine. To learn more, call 460-7032.
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