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Hopkins Medicine Magazine - Pathbreaking Pathologist

Hopkins Medicine Spring/Summer 2013

Pathbreaking Pathologist

Date: June 7, 2013

Pathbreaking Pathologist

When Gary S. Hill ’68 andMartha Hill (Nursing ’64; BA ’66) were married 46 years ago, they honeymooned at a spot not known as a romantic destination for newlyweds—Cambridge University in Great Britain. They did so because he already was demonstrating his exceptional skills as a budding pathologist and was invited to Cambridge after winning an award as “best new investigator” in the field.

Hill, who would go on to revolutionize medicine’s understanding of kidney disease by developing innovative techniques for biopsying that organ’s tissue, as well as become chief of pathology at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (just as his wife would become dean of Hopkins’ School of Nursing), died on Feb. 19 of lung cancer. He was 74.

Hill’s other pioneering pathology accomplishments included development of a system for identifying lupus and how far it had progressed. Fluent in French, he also wrote an acclaimed French-English medical dictionary and textbook on renal pathology.

A Texas native, Hill rose steadily through the academic ranks at Hopkins, going from a resident in pathology at the Hopkins Hospital in 1970 to chief of pathology at Hopkins Bayview a decade later. He remained head of pathology at Bayview for 18 years, earning praise as a teacher as well as a researcher. “He was an absolutely wonderful teacher, a charismatic teacher,” said his mentor, Robert Heppinstall, director of the Department of Pathology in the School of Medicine from 1969 to 1988.

Hill also was an empathetic physician who promptly told patients the results of the biopsies he performed as soon as he completed them. “[They] would be grateful to know immediately and not have the anguish of waiting weeks to find out,” Martha Hill told The Baltimore Sun. “That became a very popular methodology.”

In recent years, Hill spent considerable time in France as a visiting professor at l’UFR Broussais Hôtel-Dieu at Université de Paris.

Hill’s medical and scientific acumen was matched by a remarkably dry sense of humor and wide-ranging interests, including photography and the piano.

“He was interested in history, in culture, he was good at architecture,” Martha Hill told The Baltimore Sun. “People enjoyed being with him because he was so diverse, because of what he could bring to a conversation.”  —NAG

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