School of Medicine

Hematology & Hematologic Malignancies

Dr. John W. Athens

Dr. AthensDr. Athens was Chief of Hematology from 1967 until 1991. He received his M.D. from The Johns Hopkins University in 1948 and interned at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital where contact with Dr. Clement Finch (attending) and Dr. Charles Rath (resident and hematology fellow) first stimulated an interest in hematology. He was awarded a two-year Atomic Energy Commission fellowship at Johns Hopkins but after fourteen months this was interrupted by service in the Korean war. His AEC fellowship led to his assignment to the Army Medical Service Graduate School to assist in setting up a radioisotope laboratory. While there he renewed his friendship with Charles Rath (newly appointed Chief of Hematology at Georgetown Medical School) and began studies in thyroid physiology and blood cell survival. He obtained a residency position at the University of Utah in 1952. During this time he established a close collaboration with Dr. Cartwright and entered Hematology research training in 1954. The research was focused on studies of nutritional anemias in pigs due to deficiencies of copper, amino acids and various vitamins. In these studies his experience with red cell survival techniques proved useful and led to the development of a method for labeling neutrophils. His subsequent research focused on neutrophil survival, kinetics and defining pools in normal and abnormal states. Dr. Athens' observations were seminal, and a remarkable number of his papers are considered classics.