UCSD medical pioneer dies


Robert M. Winslow, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) and the VA San Diego Medical Center, and founder of San Diego biotech company, Sangart, Inc., passed away at his home on February 2 after battling brain cancer. Winslow, 67, was a pioneer in the field of blood substitutes and high-altitude physiology.

“Robert Winslow was my friend and colleague for over 20 years and from the very beginning there was a very strong meeting of the minds,” said Marcos Intaglietta, PhD, MDhc, professor of bioengineering & applied mechanics, UC San Diego.

“We complemented each other in our respective interests regarding the development of blood substitutes and the treatment of anemia and hemorrhagic shock. Bob was not shy about expressing his ideas and was very much appreciated for his outspoken commentary on important matters, but he had a great sense of humor and style.”

“Bob was a member of our expedition to Mt. Everest,” explained John West, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and physiology, emeritus, UC San Diego, who walked the month-long trek from Katmandu to the Everest base camp with Winslow. “He was a very important member of our expedition and quite resilient, considering he had never been in such extreme circumstances as those we faced on Everest.

He set up a laboratory at an altitude of 21,000 feet to make measurements on blood samples taken as high as 26,000 feet, and the results are classical. He was a fine scientist with very high standards and an excellent companion.”

Winslow was born in New Ulm, Minnesota on September 30, 1941. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1962. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University Medical School in 1966, Winslow became a research associate at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) until 1970. He returned to Johns Hopkins for his residency training from 1970 to 1972 and remained there as a fellow and instructor until 1974, when he became a senior investigator at the NIH. He transferred to the Center’s for

Disease Control (CDC) in 1979 to become chief of the hemoglobinopathy branch in the hematology division, and later became assistant director for medical sciences in the Division of Host Factors at the CDC.

In 1985, the U.S. Army commissioned Col. Winslow to become chief of the Army’s blood research division at the Letterman Army Institute of Research on the Presidio in San Francisco, where he later became acting deputy commander. He retired from government service in 1991 and moved back into academia.

At UC San Diego, Winslow initiated an NIH‐funded Program Project to continue research on cell‐free oxygen carriers. From this productive program at UC San Diego, he formed his company to continue development of a product for use when blood is not available. In his final decade, Winslow started his own company, Sangart, Inc., to develop oxygen carriers as therapeutics for treatment of human disease. He remained President, CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Sangart Inc., until June 2008 and Chairman until December 2008.

Winslow’s research included five expeditions to high-altitude field labs in Peru, Chile and Nepal to study people living at the extremes of the earth’s oxygen atmosphere. He was also a member of Explorers Club and of the 1981 American Medical Research Expedition to Mount Everest, a three‐month long expedition to study acute adaption of humans to extreme altitude.

Winslow received numerous awards for his work from the Public Health Service and the Department of the Army, including the Legion of Merit. Over the years, he consulted for many government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Pan American Health Organization. He authored more than 200 scientific papers and the author and editor of several books on oxygen transport physiology.

Winslow is survived by his wife Nancy (Lessman) Winslow, his children – Sally Winslow, John Winslow and Ford Winslow, all of La Jolla, California, as well as Ann Winslow of Atlanta, Georgia; Brad Winslow of Odenton, Maryland; Jennifer Romack of Arlington, Texas, and six grandchildren.

Winslow was laid to rest February 20, 2009, in a private ceremony at Valley Center Cemetery, in San Diego County.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations made in his honor to the University of Minnesota Foundation, 200 Oak Street, SE, Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55455‐2010 or at