Former DCRT Lab Chief Harris Dies
Dr. Eugene K. Harris
Dr. Eugene K. Harris, chief of DCRT's Laboratory of Applied Studies from 1965 to 1983, died of prostate cancer July 4 at his home in Madison, Va.
Harris joined the newly established DCRT in 1965 and directed the division until the appointment of Dr. Arnold Pratt a year later. During his career as a biostatistician, Harris worked on the statistical design and analysis of research projects and the statistical basis of clinical and laboratory chemistry values. The focus of his interest was identifying normal ranges of blood components such as calcium, cholesterol, blood urea nitrogen, and lactate dehydrogenase, and determining how these ranges changed in the presence of disease. He also served as an advisor to the national committee for clinical laboratory standards and as reviewer for the journal Clinical Chemistry.
"Gene was a caring person, a very ethical person, who was beloved by everyone who worked for him. He always assumed the best about a person, so people tended to rise to his expectations," said DCRT's Bonnie Douglas, who worked in Harris' lab in the 1970's. Dr. James Mosimann, a former section chief in Harris' lab, described him as a "humble and extremely knowledgeable person -- the best supervisor I ever had in the government."
After retiring from NIH in 1983, Harris held research, clinical, and adjunct professorships at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Charlottesville. Until shortly before his death, he worked as a consultant for the FDA, providing statistical advice on the evaluation of diagnostic medical devices. Recently, he was appointed to an FDA advisory panel on clinical chemistry and clinical toxicology devices.
Winner of many awards and honors, Harris held the National Cancer Institute's first fellowship in biostatistics in 1948-50. He received a Silver Medal and Superior Service Award from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) in 1963 and the NIH Senior Scientific Service Outstanding Performance Award in 1982.
Harris wrote four books and 65 papers in his field and was active in various professional associations and in the Madison Presbyterian Church. He received a B.S. from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., in 1946 and a doctorate in biostatistics and public health from Yale University in 1950. Before coming to NIH, he taught biostatistics at the University of California at Berkeley, directed statistical services at a Public Health Service center in Cincinnati, and served as senior operations analyst in the office of the secretary, HEW.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Janet Schoepflin Harris; three daughters, Barbara McWhirter of Cheshire, Conn., Deborah Teall of Metuchen, N.J., and Nancy Harris of Kensington, Md.; and three grandchildren.
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