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Dr. Lawrence L. Weed M.D.

1923 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Dr. Lawrence L. Weed M.D. Obituary
Dr. Lawrence L. Weed, M.D.

Age: 93

Dr. Lawrence L. (Larry) Weed, passed away at his home in Underhill, VT on June 3. Age 93, he was Professor of Medicine Emeritus, Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont.

Dr. Weed was born in Troy, New York on December 26, 1923 to Ralph E. Weed and Bertha Krause Weed. After attending high school in Middletown, NY, he graduated from Hamilton College (Clinton, NY) in 1943, with a major in Chemistry and a minor in History. He received an M.D. degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1947. He then took mixed internships in medicine, chest medicine, surgery and clinical pathology from 1947-1949 at University Hospital in Cleveland and Bellevue Hospital in New York City. During his internship in Cleveland, he met his future wife, a fellow intern, Laura Brooks, who had graduated from Yale Medical School in 1947. They married in 1952.

After his internships, Dr. Weed left clinical medicine to do basic science research in biochemistry and microbial genetics for four years at Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Army Medical Service Graduate School (Walter Reed Hospital, Washington, DC). This experience with the rigor of scientific research, and its contrast with medical practice, shaped his subsequent career in clinical medicine and education.

Dr. Weed next did a residency in medicine for a year at Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD. He then returned to basic science as a member of the faculty of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT, where he was Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine and conducted research in microbial genetics for two years. During that period he received an offer from the Eastern Maine General Hospital in Bangor, ME, where he was asked to serve as the Director of Medical Education overseeing intern and resident staff. His dean at Yale advised against his taking this position outside of academia, because the move could derail his very promising career in basic science research at Yale. Nevertheless, he decided to move to Bangor, where he worked from 1956 to 1960. During this period, the began the work for which he later became best known: developing standards of data organization in medical records (these standards, including problem lists and "SOAP notes," became known as the problem-oriented medical record or POMR).

In 1960, Dr. Weed moved to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH, where he resumed basic science research as a post-doctoral fellow in microbiology and became an Assistant Professor of Microbiology in 1961. In 1964, while continuing in his faculty position at Case Western Reserve, he became Director of the Outpatient Clinics at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital. There he resumed his work on medical record standards and began a federally-funded effort to develop a computerized health record based on the POMR. During this period he published a highly influential two-part article, "Medical Records That Guide and Teach," in the New England Journal of Medicine (1968), followed by the first of his five books, Medical Records, Medical Education and Patient Care (Case Western Reserve University Press, 1969).

In 1969, Dr. Weed moved to the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, VT, where he became a Professor of Community Medicine and directed the PROMIS Laboratory, which continued his federally-funded effort to develop the POMR in electronic form. In 1981, he left the PROMIS Laboratory and then established a company, PKC Corp., to develop software tools for coupling patient data with medical knowledge. Known as problem-knowledge couplers, these tools were intended for use by both clinicians and patients in conjunction with the POMR in electronic form (a prototype of which PKC also developed).

Beginning in the late 1960s and continuing to last year, Dr. Weed spoke and published widely in the U.S. and abroad about standards and tools for managing clinical information and related reforms in medical practice, medical education, and licensure of clinical practitioners. He also served as a consultant to various offices within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense military health system; PKC Corp. also became a contractor to the military health system. He left PKC in 2006 but continued to speak and publish. He received a number of awards, including the 1995 Gustav O. Lienhard Award for Advancement of Health Care, from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Articles about him and his work include a profile in The Economist magazine (December 2005).

The ultimate impact of Dr. Weed's concepts remains to be seen. Fragments of Dr. Weed's work are in widespread use, but his larger body of work is not yet well understood. Dr. Weed's visionary concepts are now informing the strategic planning of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) of the National Institutes of Health. The NLM has expressed its agreement with Dr. Weed's understanding that unaided human cognition is insufficient to meet the challenges of disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment in an era of explosive growth of new knowledge.

To the end of his life Dr. Weed enjoyed ongoing relationships, some dating back more than 60 years, with former students, colleagues and others. He was a compelling presence in the lives of many.

In addition to his medical activities, Dr. Weed was a lifelong pianist and devotee of classical music. During his Cleveland years, he sang in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus under the direction of Robert Shaw, who became a friend.

Dr. Weed was predeceased by his wife, Dr. Laura Brooks Weed (1923-1997), who herself became a distinguished clinician and, among many other positions, was a faculty member at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He is survived by his sister (Nancy Weed of West Haverstraw, NY), five children (Christopher Weed of Burlington, VT, Lincoln Weed of Underhill, VT, Dinny Weed Adamson of Charlotte, VT, Jonathan Weed of Eddington, ME, and Becky Weed of Belgrade, MT), two grandchildren (Julia Stever Weed of Seattle, WA and Kristen McLellan Weed of Eddington, ME), and two step-grandchildren (Karen Tyler of Burlington, VT and Erica Tyler Ghosh of Hopkinton, MA).

His children are planning a memorial concert, scheduled for September 17, 2017 (4 PM) at the Charlotte Congregational Church, 403 Church Hill Rd, Charlotte, VT 05445. Memorial contributions may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties, 1110 Prim Road, Colchester, VT 05446. Dr. Weed's children are also planning a website for posting of publications, testimonials and further dialogue by his former students, colleagues and others interested in his work.

Dr. Weed's children wish to express their heartfelt thanks to Dr. Joe Haddock, who served as an intern under Dr. Weed in 1972-1973 and who became his personal physician and close friend until the end of his life.

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Published in The Burlington Free Press on June 14, 2017
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