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In Memoriam: Ronald Glaser, Ph.D.

Ronald Glaser, Ph.D., former director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, died on Wednesday, April 3, 2019.

Dr. Glaser trained as a virologist and throughout his career made important contributions to fields of viral-induced cancer, biology of the Epstein-Barr virus, stress and immunity. A pioneer in the field of psychoneuroimmunology, Dr. Glaser, in collaboration with Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, initiated research that established a paradigm shift linking psychology, immunology and cancer.

Dr. Glaser received a Bachelor of Arts in biology in 1962 from the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1964 he was awarded a Master of Arts in physiology from the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, Rhode Island. He earned a doctoral degree in virology from the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

From 1968 through 1969, Dr. Glaser was a postdoctoral fellow at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He joined the faculty at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania, as an assistant professor in 1970. He rose through the academic ranks, becoming a full professor in 1977.

Dr. Glaser was recruited to Ohio State in 1978 to chair the department of medical microbiology and immunology in the College of Medicine. He married another new faculty member, Dr. Janice Kiecolt, in 1982, and their collaborative studies in mind-body interactions were seminal in understanding the health aversive nature of chronic stress, and were a key element leading to the development of the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI).

The couple were founding members of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS) in the early 1990s. In 1996, with the success of PNI research at Ohio State, Dr. Glaser became the founding director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research (IBMR) in the College of Medicine. The IBMR is a multidisciplinary research group of more than 20 faculty members. IBMR faculty conduct research in the field of PNI that examines the effects of stress on the body’s immune and endocrine systems, and the progression of disease.

Dr. Glaser published more than 325 peer-viewed papers and chapters throughout his career, and in 2002 he was recognized by Thomson (formerly ISI) as one of the “World’s Most Cited Authors.” His research was supported by grants from multiple institutes at the National Institutes of Health since the 1970s. At Ohio State, he was the PI of three NIH-funded program project grants and a center grant, all related to the study of stress, immunity and health.

During Dr. Glaser’s leadership, the IBMR received more than $140 million in research grants.

Over the course of his career at Ohio State, Dr. Glaser held a number of administrative positions in the College of Medicine and at the Ohio State University, including associate dean for research and graduate education, associate vice president for health sciences research and associate vice president for research in the Office of Research.

Dr. Glaser received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career. In 1994 he became the Gilbert and Kathryn Mitchell Endowed Chair Medicine in the College of Medicine, and in 1995 was the recipient of the Ohio State University Distinguished Scholar Award. In 1997, Dr. Glaser was Invited to testify before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, in Washington, D.C., about the NIH and Mind/Body Medicine.

In 2003 he was elected as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow. Dr. Glaser is a past president of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research and the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society. He served on many editorial boards and research panels, including the Basic Behavioral Research Brain Initiative for the National Cancer Institute, Chronic Fatigue Advisory Panel to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Advisory Council of the Charles A. Dana Foundation Brain-Body Institute.

A memorial will be held at First Community Church, 1320 Cambridge Blvd., Columbus, OH 43212 on Monday, April 8, 2019 at 2 p.m. in the Burkart Chapel.