Pioneering U Neonatologist August L. (Larry) Jung, M.D., Honored with Presidential Endowed Chair in His Name

Pioneering U Neonatologist August L. (Larry) Jung, M.D., Honored with Presidential Endowed Chair in His Name

Dec 9, 2004 5:00 PM

August L. (Larry) Jung, M.D., the beloved physician who established Utah's first newborn intensive care unit (NBICU) more than three decades ago and pioneered neonatal care in the Intermountain West, has been honored with a presidential endowed chair in his name at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Jung, professor of pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology, recently was recognized at a program announcing the August L. (Larry) Jung, M.D., Presidential Endowed Chair in the Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah School of Medicine.

The pediatrics department endowed the chair, which a physician will be selected to hold, with $1.25 million.

Jung not only trained the first generation of neonatologists but also established neonatal care units throughout the Intermountain West, according to Edward B. Clark, M.D., professor and chair of pediatrics at the U medical school and medical director of Primary Children's Medical Center. "Dr. Jung changed the lives of thousands of infants and their families," Clark said. "His legacy will live on in the children whose lives were changed."

Jung, whose parents ran a pumpernickel bakery in Chicago, came to Utah in 1953 to study forestry at Utah State University. He met his wife, Joy, while at USU and they were married in 1956 and have four children. Because of an illness of their first-born daughter, Christine, Jung became aware of and interested in the needs of newborn babies. Shortly after that, Jung switched his career to medicine, graduating from the U of U medical school in 1961, then completing a pediatric residency.

In 1967, Jung took a six-month fellowship in neonatology under one of the pioneers in the field, Lula Lubchenco at the University of Colorado.

In July 1968, under Jung's direction, the U of U opened its NBICU--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. Jung also served as director of the Division of Neonatology from 1968 until 1999.

When the University's NBICU opened, the mortality rate was 15 deaths per 1,000 live births. Within a year, that mortality rate had been halved and the unit had received its first patients via airplane and helicopter transport. In 1975, Jung established a neonatal team specifically for aiding in the transport of babies.

In 2003, the NBICU cared for 597 babies. It is a large reason Utah has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the country--4.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The Division of Neonatology today has a faculty of 22 and has trained 45 fellows since its founding in 1973, much of this through Jung's teaching of students, interns, residents and nurses. Five of his former faculty have been or are division chiefs at major U.S. universities.

In 1999, Jung stepped down as chief of neonatology, but he continues as a professor. The establishment of a chair in his name came as a "total surprise," he said. "I'm very flattered. It was a great honor to receive this award."

The ceremony honoring Jung was attended by A. Lorris Betz, M.D., Ph.D., U of U senior vice president for health sciences, Edward Clark, M.D., J. Ross Milley, M.D., Ph.D., chief of neonatology, other physicians, and Jung's family and friends.

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