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Dr. Marshall Dunning dies Aug. 20

Aug. 22, 2013 College News - This obituary was written by Allen W. Cowley, Jr., PhD, the James J. Smith & Catherine Welsch Smith Professor, Harry & Gertrude Hack Term Professor, and Chairman of Physiology; Elizabeth R. Jacobs, MD, Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine) and Associate Dean of Research at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center; Julian H. Lombard, PhD, Professor of Physiology; and David L. Mattson, PhD, Professor of Physiology

The Medical College of Wisconsin lost an outstanding faculty member when Marshall Dunning passed away August 20, 2013.

Marshall received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1988 and has been with MCW since that time.  He was Director of the Froedtert Pulmonary Function Lab for more than two decades, where he developed an outstanding full service testing center that became the premier regional hub for evaluation of patients with complex pulmonary disease.

For the last five years, he was Course Director for the M1 Physiology Course, a leader in the development of the revised Cardiovascular/Respiratory/Renal module. Among his numerous accomplishments, he was perhaps most proud of his many teaching awards, more than a dozen such individual awards from medical students, graduate students, residents and fellows. Dr. Dunning always exhibited the utmost devotion and respect for the students. He expended tremendous effort toward helping students who were in academic difficulty and toward constant improvement of the medical physiology course to better meet the needs of the students and MCW curriculum alike.  Very few educators were more beloved by their students, many of whom routinely kept in contact with Dr. Dunning years after graduation.

On a national level, he was an invited member of the National Spirometric Examination Review Committee under the CDC and NIOSH and an Exam Question Contributor American Board of Respiratory Care.  Based upon his unique expertise, he served frequently as an ad hoc Merit Reviewer for the VA and as Peer Reviewer for the American Association of Respiratory Care, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and California College for Health Sciences. 

Dr. Dunning competed successfully for many peer reviewed grants, receiving an award for development of computer program tool for teaching mechanical ventilation in the 1990s, funds from Marquette Electronics for monitoring breakdown of isoflurane and desflurane, and an award from the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation for investigating the relationship between preoperative smoking and myocardial ischemia.  He was the first to observe the production of flammable CO from sevoflurane after passage through desiccated carbon dioxide.  This groundbreaking work led to a hazard report for Health devices  (ECRI: Anesthesia carbon dioxide absorber fires: (Hazard Report) Health Devices 32(11), 2003) and a global report issued by Abbott Laboratories warning of the potential of fire and extreme heat production in anesthesia machines (11/2003). His observations changed the standard monitoring techniques and guidelines for preventing this serious complication in patients receiving inhaled anesthetics. Collaboratively, he served as a key co-investigator on industry supported studies and NIH grants.

Dr. Dunning retired from MCW in May 2013 for health reasons. He had an ever-open door for any students, staff, or faculty members who needed kind, understanding, and sage advice.  His pleasant demeanor, high degree of skill, and tremendous empathy to anyone who encountered him were of great comfort and value to everyone who knew him. MCW and all of us in the fields of medical education and pulmonary physiology are much poorer for his loss.

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