Robert Deaver Collins, M.D.
Robert Deaver Collins, M.D., Professor of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, Emeritus
Born October 28, 1928, in Davidson, Tennessee, Dr. Collins was the son of Winifred Poindexter and Claude Adolphus Collins.
He is survived by his wife of sixty-three years, Elizabeth Cate Collins; his children: Robert Deaver Collins, Jr. (Rebecca); Richard Roos-Collins (Margit); Elizabeth Landress Collins (Steven); and William Drew Collins, (Janet); his grandchildren: Deaver Hiatt Collins (Elizabeth); Caldwell Collins Israel (William); Emma Roos-Collins; Byron Roos-Collins; and Zachary Robert Wells Webster; his great-granddaughter, Redding Cate Israel; his brother, John Richard Collins (Susan); his brother-in-law, Thomas Randolph Cate (Deborah); and many nieces and nephews.
Dr. Collins attended Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, and received his B.A. and M. D. degrees from Vanderbilt University. He trained in Pathology under Dr. Ernest William Goodpasture, spent a year in Internal Medicine at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, and was a Fellow in Microbiology at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Collins spent two sabbaticals at Cambridge University, England, both in research in the Department of Medicine.
During his fifty-six year career at Vanderbilt Medical School (1957-2013), Dr. Collins taught generations of medical students. The high standards to which he held both himself and his students shaped many of their careers. His excellence as a teacher, research scientist, and clinical pathologist was recognized through numerous awards both from medical school classes as well as from the School of Medicine faculty.
Special honors recognizing his contributions to Vanderbilt University and to the field of Pathology include: being named the Harvie Branscomb Distinguished Professor in 1996; the Grant Liddle Award for Excellence in Research; the Distinguished Pathologist Award for Career Achievement by the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology; the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Vanderbilt Medical Alumni Association; the John L. Shapiro Chair in Pathology; the Jack Davies Award for Best Preclinical Lecturer, and The School of Medicine Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Robert D. Collins Award.
Dr. Collins established the Division of Hematopathology at Vanderbilt and trained fellows who are leaders in this field today. His 20-year collaboration with Dr. Robert J. Lukes resulted in the Lukes-Collins Classification of Lymphomas published in Tumors of the Hematopoietic System in 1992. In 2001, Dr. Collins and Dr. Steven Swerdlow served as authors and editors for the first textbook on pediatric hematopathology entitled Pediatric Hematopathology.
In 1999, Dr. Collins began a second career writing books, joining two younger colleagues in their research projects, and raising funds for endowed scholarships for Vanderbilt Medical School. The biography of his mentor, Ernest William Goodpasture, Scientist, Scholar, Gentleman, was published in 2002. His fourth book, Ahmic Lake Connections: The Founding Leadership of Vanderbilt University, was published in 2004. His membership in the Old Oak Club was a source of pleasure, sharing papers with men from other academic and professional fields.
Dr. Collins's love of nature and books guided his family life. He was always ready for an adventure with family, friends, and colleagues, spending many a weekend canoeing, hiking, and camping. The Collins home of 54 years was a special place for their growing family and grandchildren. This home, with its picnic tables under a massive oak tree, welcomed extended family and friends as well as medical students, faculty, and colleagues from afar.
A memorial service will be held at West End United Methodist Church on a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Vanderbilt Medical School Endowed Scholarship Program, Alive Hospice, American Rivers, and West End United Methodist Church.
Published in The Tennessean from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3, 2013