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Brobeck, John R. (1914-2009) | Archival Collections at Wheaton College

Name: Brobeck, John R. (1914-2009)
Variant Name: Brobeck, John Raymond

Historical Note:

Dr. John R. Brobeck was born on April 12, 1914 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He earned a B.S. in 1936 at Wheaton College (IL), a Ph.D. in neuroanatomy in 1939 from Northwestern University, and an M.D. in 1943 from Yale University. From 1942 until 1952 he served on the faculty of the Yale University Medical School. In 1952 he was appointed chairman of the physiology department in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. When he gave up the chairmanship in 1973 he was appointed Herbert S. Rorer Professor of Medical Sciences, a position he held until his retirement from the faculty in 1982. During the following decade he continued to serve the university as assistant to the Vice President for Health Affairs.

Dr. Brobeck’s most important research was on the central regulation of food intake. From 1963 to 1972 he was chairman of the editorial board of the journal Physiological Reviews. He also edited or co-edited several books, including a history of the American Physiological Society, to which he was elected president in 1971. Dr. Brobeck was elected to be a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in 1975 and received many other awards, including an honorary doctorate from Wheaton College and a Centennial Merit Award from Northwestern University.

Dr. Brobeck was a devout Christian. Throughout much of his adult life he taught Sunday School, and his comments on science and miracles at a medical association meeting in 1952 were featured in a Time Magazine article. He was an active member of the Christian Medical and Dental Society and spoke frequently to their national and local groups. More recently he served on the board, and as chairman, of Lancaster Bible College. He was a member of Aldan Union Church in Aldan, PA since since 1985.

Dr. Brobeck was married to Dorothy Kellogg from 1940 until last year, when she died. He was survived by four children – Stephen J. Brobeck of Washington DC, Priscilla K. Brobeck of Vacaville California, Elisabeth B. Thompson of Lansdowne Pennsylvania, John T. Brobeck of Tucson Arizona - by his sister, Martha Grosser of Connecticut and by five grandchildren, Daniel, Jonathan, Phillip, Marie and Jennifer.

As well as Dr. Brobeck’s contributions to physiology and the University of Pennsylvania, academic colleagues remembered his bowties and commutes by bicycle to the university from Swarthmore, where he lived for over four decades (since then, he resided at Granite Farms Estates in Media, PA). All four of his children grew up in the community and graduated from Swarthmore High School. A typical weekend outing for the family was a walk in the college woods. He died on March 6, 2009 at the age of 94.

Sources: Marvil Funeral Home obituary <http://www.webfh.com/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=231369&fh_id=10500>; American Physiological Society <http://www.the-aps.org/about/pres/introjrb.htm>

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