Harry R. Kimball, Res. ’64, Res. ’68
Distinguished Alumni Award
Harry R. Kimball, Res. ’64, Res. ’68, recipient of this year’s UW Medicine Distinguished Alumni Award, has enjoyed the variety of his career. Now retired, Kimball was — among other positions — an allergy and infectious diseases researcher and section head at the National Institutes of Health, a doctor in Yakima, Wash., the chief of general medicine at Tufts University, the president of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and, most recently, the senior advisor to the dean of the UW School of Medicine.
“My C.V. makes me look like someone who can’t hold a job,” says Kimball.
Kimball credits much of his success to Robert Petersdorf, M.D., one of his mentors and the former head of UW Medicine’s Department of Medicine. “He was the most amazing man I’d ever met,” says Kimball: definitive, analytical, loyal. Patients weren’t just illnesses to Petersdorf, Kimball remembers. They were real people with real stories.
It’s no wonder, then, that much of Kimball’s career has been dedicated either to serving patients or to improving the doctor-patient relationship. He left the NIH to become a rural practitioner in Yakima because he missed using the hands-on skills of medicine, and he spent many years, both on the American Board of Internal Medicine and later at UW Medicine, helping to create clinical, educational, and professional standards for doctors.
“I see this arc of my professional life, and it started and stopped on the same point; it started at the University; it ended at the University,” says Kimball. “It’s my spiritual home.”