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Giebisch, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Dies at 93

April 10, 2020

Gerhard Giebisch, MD, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Yale School of Medicine, died peacefully at the Connecticut Hospice in Branford, Connecticut on Monday, April 6, 2020. He was 93 years old.

Giebisch was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1927, and graduated from the University of Vienna Faculty of Medicine in 1951 before immigrating to the United States the following year. After completing a rotating internship at Milwaukee Hospital, Dr. Giebisch moved to the Department of Physiology at Cornell University Medical College in New York to train as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Robert Pitts from 1953-1954. After serving in positions of increasing rank at Cornell, he was appointed professor and chair of Physiology at Yale School of Medicine in 1968 and Sterling Professor of Physiology in 1970. He served as chair of Physiology from 1968-1973, an important period of growth of the department.

For more than 60 years, Giebisch devoted his professional career to the study of the mechanisms of renal electrolyte transport and their regulation. He had a special interest in the renal handling of potassium. He was a pioneer in the use of micropuncture techniques and then patch-clamp methods to study this problem. His work is largely responsible for our current understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying regulation of renal potassium excretion. Giebisch was a beloved and exemplary mentor who trained more than 75 postdoctoral fellows, dozens of whom achieved success as professors and department chairs around the world.

In addition to his contributions as a scientist and mentor, Giebisch was an extraordinary academic citizen. His many positions included service as president of the American Society of Nephrology and president of the Society of General Physiologists, as well as innumerable editor and editorial positions, study section memberships, and council positions in academic societies.

In addition to his scientific work, Giebisch had a broad range of passionate interests. These included a deep appreciation for art, history, classical music, and literature. He adored opera and loved to travel and mountain climb. A true humanist, he touched the lives of many with his integrity, kindness, and generosity.

Giebisch was predeceased by his wife Ilse in 2008. He is survived by his two children, Christina Giebisch (Peter Mohrer) of Guilford, Connecticut, and Robert Giebisch of Woodbridge, Connecticut (Ninrong Giebisch), and four grandchildren, Daniella and Marisa Mohrer and Allison and Daniel Giebisch.

See Dr. Giebisch interviewed in 2008 for the American Physiological Society's Living History Project by his Yale colleague Peter Aronson, MD.

Submitted by Robert Forman on April 10, 2020