Skip to main content

Remembering August L. "Larry" Jung, M.D., Pioneering Neonatologist

Jan 05, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY—August L. “Larry” Jung, M.D., borrowed and begged equipment from wherever he could find it to establish the Intermountain West’s first neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the University of Utah Hospital.

When the one-room unit opened in 1968, it was humble, like the man who founded it. But through sheer determination and dedication to the newborns depending on it, Jung built a first-rate NICU. That unit, along with his contributions to the field of neonatology and teaching the art and science of medicine, stand as part of Jung’s legacy following his death on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011.  He was 75.

“Larry was responsible for many advances that impact NICU care today,” said Edward B. Clark, professor and chair of pediatrics at the University of Utah and a longtime friend and colleague of Jung’s. “Early in his career, Larry and his colleagues pioneered ventilators and automated analysis of blood gases, as well as approaches to resuscitate babies. His spirit of leadership, innovation, training, and research still drive the Division of Neonatology’s academic pursuits.”

Jung, whose parents ran a pumpernickel bakery in Chicago, was born Dec. 11, 1935. He came to Utah in 1953, planning to study forestry at Utah State University. While at Utah State he met his future wife, Joy, and the couple were married in 1956. When their first-born daughter was born with a serious illness, Jung became interested in the needs of newborns and switched his career to medicine. In 1961, he graduated from the University of Utah School of Medicine and then completed a residency in pediatrics.

In 1967, he took a six-month fellowship to study under one of the pioneers of neonatology, Lula Lubchenco at the University of Colorado. The following year, under Jung's direction, the U of U opened its NICU – one room with the capacity to care for five babies. The unit was the only one between Denver and the West Coast and Phoenix and Canada. Equipment was bought in small amounts or borrowed from other areas of University Hospital and medical equipment companies. Jung and his nurses sold doughnuts to raise the money to buy a heart-rate monitor.

Ten years after establishing the U of U NICU, Jung oversaw the opening of the NICU at Primary Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) in Salt Lake City, which played an important role in the relationship between the U of U neonatology division and PCMC’s parent corporation, Intermountain Health Care, according to Clark.

After stepping aside as division chief in 1999, Jung continued as a professor of pediatrics. In 2004, he was honored with a $1.25 million presidential endowed chair named in his honor – the August L. (Larry) Jung Presidential Endowed Chair in the Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah School of Medicine.

“Larry’s most important contribution is to the thousands of babies for whom he cared, as well as those who gave benefited from the NICU infrastructure he created,” Clark said.

Away from his medical career, Jung skillfully pursued painting, sculpture, photography, and taxidermy. He is survived by his wife, Joy, three children, and nine grandchildren. He was predeceased by a daughter.