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Former Board of Regents Chair John P. McGovern, MD Dies

Dr. John Phillip "Jack" McGovern, who served on the NLM Board of Regents from 1970 to 1974 and chaired it 1973-4, died May 31st of pneumonia in Galveston, Texas. He was 85.

John P. McGovern, MD

His era on the Board was an exciting one at the National Library of Medicine. It saw the inauguration of MEDLINE, the beginning of a national toxicology online search service, a number of satellite-based communications experiments, and, just to show that nothing is new, emergency outreach to flood-ravaged medical libraries in Pennsylvania (Hurricane "Agnes").

Internationally known as a distinguished American physician, philanthropist, humanitarian and scholar, McGovern made his name as a leader in treating allergies and asthma. His McGovern Allergy and Asthma Clinic, which he founded in Houston in 1956, was one of the nation's first for diagnosing and treating disorders. While working at the clinic (he retired in 1986), Dr. McGovern kept up an active career of teaching, research and scholarship. In all, he held appointments to 17 professorships at 15 universities such as George Washington, Tulane, and Baylor.

The son of a surgeon, McGovern graduated from Duke University School of Medicine in 1945. He was trained as a pediatrician and, during medical school, developed an interest in medical research that continued to his death. His medical interests expanded to treating allergies, and he opened a small allergy clinic for children at a New Orleans hospital. That planted the seed for the creation of his own clinic, in Texas.

Dr. McGovern received honorary degrees from 28 major colleges and universities. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Duke in 1976.

Dr. McGovern received the Private Sector Initiative commendation in 1985 from President Ronald Reagan for his "lifetime of meritorious service in medicine and generous contributions to his community" and the American Medical Association's Board of Director's Special Award for Meritorious Service in 1985. He created the John P. McGovern Foundation, valued at almost $200 million in 2005, and lent his name and financial support to many worthy Texas facilities, including the John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center at the Texas Medical Center Library (the seat of NLM's NN/LM South Central Region, at the Houston Academy of Medicine).

Dr. McGovern is survived by his wife, Kathrine.