• Cook-Walden Funeral Home
    Austin, TX
In partnership with the Dignity Memorial® network
Dr. Robert P. Popovich 1939 - 2012

Dr. Robert P. Popovich

Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Bob Popovich, a former professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at UT Austin was a major figure in the field. For several generations of "early biomedical engineers", Bob Popovich was a co-inventor of a method that has helped hundreds of thousand of patients, i.e., continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD). Bob Popovich was educated as a PhD student of the legendary Prof. Al Babb at the University of Washington, Seattle. At UT, Bob focused his work on both hemodialysis and CAPD.

As I recall it, in 1973 of 1974 NIH awarded him a research grant on "intensive research into peritoneal dialysis". Bob was the PI, while he was an assistant professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, while Jack Moncrief, a physician in the private practice of nephrology, was the co-investigator. During that period, Popovich and Moncrief developed the new medical treatment for patients suffering acute renal failure, which they called CAPD. It became the dominant form of home dialysis. Their method was described in an abstract at the 1976 meeting of the American Society of Artificial Internal Organs in San Francisco. I was at the San Francisco meeting that year and I recall spending significant time talking with Bob about his new method. The original CAPD did not require major capital investment. Popovich and Moncrief filed for a patent in 1977. It was issued in December 1980 with patent number 4,239,041. The CAPD method was adopted in North America, Europe and Australia.

Bob Popovich was very successful in the development of various systems of CAPD and (in the 1980s) spent more and more of his time on his entrepreneurial activities. While at UT he was the mentor of a large number of undergraduate students who learned biomedical engineering and transport phenomena from him, students such as Christine Schmidt (UT) and Guillermo Ameer (Northwestern). Notable among his graduate students is David Rosenthal who is the 2012 President of AIChE. Bob left UT Austin in 1996 to concentrate his effort of medical consulting.

One of the giants in the development of new methods for hemodialysis, Bob leaves a large number of former students who were trained to became great biomedical engineers and a rich literature of patents and publications. He will be missed.

Nicholas A. Peppas
Chair, BME Department, UT Austin
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