In Memoriam: Clark D. West, MD

Clark D. West, MD, a pioneer in pediatric nephrology and a renowned clinician who led our division of nephrology for 36 years, died last week at the age of 95.

Dr. West was born July 4, 1918 in Jamestown, New York and chose the career of medicine as a result of his mother’s insistence that he choose a career outside of the family’s farming roots.

He arrived at Cincinnati Children’s in 1948 to begin a research fellowship and officially became a member of the faculty in 1951. He established the Division of Physiological Chemistry in 1953 – that division was renamed Nephrology in 1973.

The medical career his mother encouraged was full of achievements, including his participation on the team that performed the first kidney transplant in Ohio, in 1965.

Dr. West retired from his clinical practice in 1989, but he continued his research for many years, publishing his last two papers in 2008. He was 90 years old at the time.

Fifty years ago, Dr. West wrote the proposal that won $2.5 million from the National Institutes of Health to launch the Clinical Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s. A few years later, he and pediatric chair Edward Pratt, MD, wrote the proposal that won funding for the second research building at Cincinnati Children’s, the Institute for Developmental Research (IDR).

Dr. West’s early research was on renal physiology, but over time he switched his focus to the new field of immunology because it was becoming apparent that many renal diseases were of immune origin. He did breakthrough research on a number of kidney diseases but is best known for his work on glomerulonephritis. The successful treatment that he developed is still used today.

Dr. Clark D. West was a truly remarkable man and we know Cincinnati Children’s today stands on the strong foundation he did so much to build as a physician, researcher, teacher and leader. He will be greatly missed.






Cincinnati Children’s News Team

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  1. James L, Williams January 21, 12:04
    I just saw this article posted on facebook. My 45 birthday will be this Friday the 24. At the age of 3 or 4 I honestly cannot remember its been so long ago, I was diagnosed by my Peditrician here in Dayton with a very severe kidney desease. They tried many things here, spent many days in children's , then Barneys Children Hospital, with no luck. My Peditrician told my Mother,, I know a Doctor in Cincinnati , DR.West , who is excellent in this field, maybe He can do something. It was a very long process in Cincinnati. I can remember the trips from Dayton to Cincinnati 3 times a week to the out patient clinic there. I spent a month there as inpatient. They tried many many things with my treatment, then finally Dr. West along with a Dr. McDonald I believe, told my mom they had done all they could do. They should take me home and enjoy the 3 to 6 months I had left. Three days after that news, Dr. West called my mother and told her, Mrs. Williams, I can't say for sure this will work, but over the weekend I thought of one more treatment to try, if you're willing we will give it a go. Well, needless to say, I'll be turning 45 this Friday, so it worked. Although I give God credit for my healing, it came through the hands of a wonderful Doctor in Cincinnati named Dr. West. I have often thought of him over the years. He was a great man, and I'm sure He touched more lives than just mine.
    • Rich March 30, 21:15
      I developed chronic nephritis in 1965. I was 6 years old, and was referred by our local pediatrician to Dr. West. Living a long way from Cincinnati, my mother took me there every year, switching back and forth as outpatient and inpatient. Since I was a small child, I had no idea that I was seeing one of the best nephrologists in the world! I somehow knew he was a very good doctor, but what I most remember about him at the time, was how he cared for me as a person. He was always asking me things like what sports teams I liked and my favorite hobbies, etc. I saw Dr. West for probably 10 years, and then started seeing Dr, McEnery as well. I am now 61 years old, and will never forget Dr. West. He truly was a great man!