Dale Benos, Ph.D., noted scientist and chairman of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Physiology and Biophysics, died suddenly Oct. 7, 2010. He was 60.

 October 8, 2010

Dale Benos. Download image.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Dale Benos, Ph.D., noted scientist and chairman of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Physiology and Biophysics, died suddenly of natural causes Oct. 7, 2010. He was 60.

Benos joined UAB in 1985 as associate professor of Physiology and Biophysics; he was named professor in 1987 and appointed chair of the department in 1996. He also held professorships in Cell Biology and Neurobiology and was a senior scientist with UAB's Gregory Fleming James Cystic Fibrosis Research Center, the Nephrology Research and Training Center, UAB Center for AIDS Research, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Center, Center for Computational and Structural Biology, Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering and Vision Science Research Center.

"Dale Benos was a phenomenal scientist, educator and person," said Ray Watts, M.D., senior vice president for medicine at UAB and dean of the School of Medicine. "Dale's leadership both at UAB and internationally, as well as his contributions to the body of scientific knowledge and to the training of future scientists, garnered the utmost respect from his friends and colleagues. He will be greatly missed."

UAB President Carol Garrison said the institution and the scientific community have lost a great friend and colleague.

"Dale was a dedicated mentor and scientist who made a great impact on all of the lives he touched," Garrison said. "Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family, friends and colleagues. He was the embodiment of excellence in research and education."

Benos was internationally recognized for his contributions to the field of physiology and biophysics and he received many accolades, at UAB and beyond. In 2006 he received the UAB President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2008, he was named UAB's first holder of the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation Endowed Chair in Biomedical Research.

From 2006 to 2007 he served as president of The American Physiological Society.

In 2007 Benos received the School of Medicine's highest faculty honor, the Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. It was a reflection of his contributions to the university and the community.

Benos is survived by his wife Kim, and daughters Kaitie and Emilee. A memorial service for Benos will be held Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. at the Church of the Highlands, 4700 Highlands Way, Birmingham, AL 35210. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Dale Benos Research Fund, c/o UAB Gift Records, 1530 3rd Ave. S., AB1230, Birmingham, Ala., 35294.

A distinguished history

Continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1976 and principal investigator for 19 individual research grants, Benos' research focused on understanding the movement of sodium ions present in the membranes of surface and nerve cells. That process is relative to the progression of certain diseases such as cystic fibrosis and hypertension. His laboratory also investigated the role of ion channels and transporters in human brain tumors. During his career, he trained more than 15 graduate students and 34 postdoctoral fellows.

In addition to his teaching and research efforts, Benos served as a visiting professor, distinguished lecturer, or invited speaker at more than 100 major national and international universities or symposia, chairing seven Experimental Biology symposia. Benos was a member of eight NIH special study sections, an ad hoc reviewer for seven NIH/CF study sections and chaired multiple site visits and special emphasis panels. He was a member of or chaired more than 50 major committees at UAB and several at Harvard University; among those were the UAB Medical Education Committee (serving in several capacities, including chair), Minority Medical Education Program, Alabama State Education Task Force and UAB Research Foundation Funding Flow Task Force.

Benos authored more than 200 original articles and 80 invited reviews and edited four books. He edited and served on editorial board of several national journals; he was editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology and served on its editorial board, and he was editor of APS's "Physiology in Medicine" series that is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Benos also was on the editorial board of the journal SHOCK, was a section editor for Biochemica et Biophysica Acta (Biomembranes); a series editor for "Current Topics in Membranes"; and an associate editor for Journal of Biological Chemistry. He has served as editorial board member for Journal of American Society of Nephrology, Placenta, Biological Research, Current Cardiology Reviews, Journal of Biological Chemistry. He was also associate editor for Comments on Molecular and Cellular Biophysics.

Benos, who served on the American Physiology Society's Council before becoming president, also was active in other professional societies, including the Council of Science Editors, Society of General Physiologists, American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, American Society of Nephrology, Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology, Society of Neuroscience, New York Academy of Sciences, Biophysical Society and American Society of Cell Biology.

Benos earned his bachelor's degree in biology in 1972 from Case Western Reserve University. He earned his Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology from Duke University in 1976 and also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in physiology at Duke in 1978. After completing his fellowship, he was an Andrew W. Mellon Scholar in the Laboratory of Human Reproduction and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School, where he was both assistant and associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics before joining the UAB faculty in 1985.