UW Today

This is an archived article.

June 26, 2003

Belding Scribner Memorial service Monday, June 30

A memorial service to celebrate the life of Dr. Belding H. Scribner, UW professor emeritus of medicine and an inventor whose device has saved millions of lives, will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, June 30, in Hogness Auditorium at the Health Sciences Center.

Scribner died in Seattle on June 19, apparently after falling from the deck of his houseboat on Portage Bay. He was 82.

Scribner, a member of the School of Medicine faculty since 1951, was honored last fall with one of the world’s major awards for medicine, the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research, in recognition of his pioneering work in developing the “Scribner shunt” that made long-term kidney dialysis possible.

“Although Belding Scribner is internationally renowned for his innovative clinical research, his motivation always came from his role as a physician caring for patients,” said Dr. Paul Ramsey, UW vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “Countless people are alive today because of his pioneering innovation. This is a great loss for UW Medicine — and for the medical community worldwide.”

The Lasker Awards are the nation’s most distinguished honor for outstanding contributions to basic and clinical medical research. Scribner was honored along with Dr. Willem J. Kolff of the University of Utah.

The fate of kidney patients has undergone a revolution in the last half-century, due in large part to Kolff’s and Scribner’s seminal contributions. Hemodialysis has become a universal standard of care for individuals with acute and chronic kidney failure. Furthermore, it is the first – and still the only – method in which a machine replaces a failed internal organ.

Scribner served as head of the division of nephrology in the UW School of Medicine from 1958 to 1982. He and his wife, Ethel, had lived on the houseboat in Portage Bay for many years and in the past he often paddled a canoe across the bay to UW Medical Center and the School of Medicine to work.

The family requests that memorial contributions be sent to University of Washington Scribner Dialysis Fund, care of UW Medicine, 1325 4th Ave., Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98101 (or Box 358220 in UW campus mail). The University also plans to honor his memory with a major international symposium within the next academic year.