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Forrest H. Adams


1919 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Forrest H. Adams Obituary
Adams, Forrest H., M.D. died peacefully at his home on July 14, 2017 at the age of 97. A distinguished pioneer in pediatric cardiology who performed the first heart catheterization on a newborn infant, discovered the role of lung surfactant in respiratory distress syndrome, and left an indelible mark through his research in congenital heart disease and pulmonary function during fetal life, and the physiological changes that occur with birth. A descendant of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Forrest had an illustrious family history, but his life began with humble beginnings - and those who know him describe him as profoundly modest. Born in 1919 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he graduated from Washburn High School in 1937, went on to Johns Hopkins and the University of Minnesota. He obtained four degrees: specializing in pediatrics, infectious diseases, and pediatric cardiology. While a medical student, he was the first to describe a genetic disorder (in 1943) now called Adams-Oliver Syndrome. His professional contributions began at the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty in 1948 and worked alongside Drs. Walt Lillehei (first to perform open-heart surgery on a child) and John LaBree to establish the Variety Club Heart Hospital, the first hospital in the U.S. devoted solely to heart disease. He established the pediatric cardiology program at the University of Minnesota, which led to its renowned stature and to his invitation, in 1952, to join UCLA's newly forming medical school. Forrest formed UCLA's Division of Pediatric Cardiology, which is one of the premier pediatric cardiology programs in the country. Emphasizing and modeling a collaborative team approach in the care of children, he was involved in the training of medical students, dentists, nurses, and residents in various specialties, and directed UCLA's Marion Davies Children's Clinic. Forrest devoted his career to teaching, committing significant time and attention to training pediatric cardiologists and mentoring colleagues. Friends recalls his "insistence on our willingness to be critical," his urging of fellow cardiologists to become knowledgeable in other disciplines, and his focus on the importance of good communication. They also recall Forrest's generosity and encouragement, qualities any teacher would be glad to be remembered for and the most important qualities a medical professional can aspire to: thinking independently, acting with character, and being loyal to the substance of the craft. During his career, Forrest published some 200 scientific papers and eleven books, including Heart Disease in Infants, Children and Adolescents, which is used throughout the world, including University of Minnesota pediatric cardiology residency program, and is considered to be the gold standard in pediatric cardiology textbooks. His leadership has been recognized by his election to many professional societies and institutional boards, including serving as President of the American College of Cardiology, the Western Society for Pediatric Research, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Board of Pediatric Cardiology, the American Heart Association, the Inter-Society Commission for Heart Disease Resources, and the Medical Advisory Committee of the Public Employees Retirement System of California (CalPERS), which he chaired from 1989-91. He received the American Academy of Pediatrics' Founders Award in 2000, and the U of M Medical Society's Harold S. Diehl Award in 2009 and the University of Minnesota honored Forrest's remarkable accomplishments by presenting him with University of Minnesota's Outstanding Achievement Award on February 3, 2017. Forrest is survived by his loving wife, Joan, and eight children; Memorials preferred to the University of Minnesota Foundation for the Medical School; P.O. Box 860266, Minneapolis, MN 55486-0266.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on July 19, 2017
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