University of Minnesota

Louis Tobian, MD

1920 — 2006

Louis Tobian was a pioneer researcher in hypertension, not involved in CVD epidemiology but a central figure in understanding hypertension and most noted for his work on the sodium, potassium and water content of arteries and on the function of the juxtaglormerular cells.

Tobian was educated at the University of Texas, received his MD from Harvard in 1943, and after post-graduate work in San Francisco and with Tinsley Harrison in Dallas he joined the University of Minnesota faculty in 1954 where he directed the Renal division and the Hypertension division until 1994.

Tobian was one of the first investigators to define the role of renin and other vasoactive substances in the pathogenesis of hypertension and the relationship between sodium and renin production by the kidney. He was the author of a seminal article describing the role of vasodilator substances produced in the kidney medulla, later identified as prostaglandins. Tobian long studied the roles of calcium and potassium in the genesis of hypertension and the role of potassium in avoiding vascular complications. In his latter years he indicated to colleagues that his thinking and research was guided by the concepts of evolutionary medicine and the legacy of hunter-gatherer diet and lifestyles, to which he had been introduced by CVD epidemiologist, Henry Blackburn.

He received many awards, headed the American Society of Hypertension, and served leading roles in NIH committees and councils on hypertension.

Tobian’s biographer, Mark Rosenberg, eulogized him as follows: “Although Louis Tobian’s research productivity was immense, he never lost touch with the hypertensive patient. He was a dedicated, gifted and beloved clinician. Having one foot in the clinic and the other in the research lab was a key to Louis Tobian’s success. He was an active participant in Division and Department conferences . . . Where his sense of humor and intellectual curiosity were legendary.” (HB)


Mark Rosenberg. American Society of Hypertension, Inc.

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