James Edwin Wood, III, 85, a physician who served as Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Pennsylvania Hospital and Professor of Medicine on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for twenty one years died Aug. 15, 2010 of cancer at Beaumont, a retirement community in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Dr. Wood, a Virginian and the epitome of a southern gentleman, spent over fifty years of his medical career in Boston and Philadelphia. Dr. Wood received many honors for his distinguished career in cardio-vascular research and academic medicine. He served as a faculty member at Boston University School of Medicine, the Medical College of Georgia, the University of Virginia Medical School, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He held numerous professional, academic and editorial positions at the state, regional and national levels. He was a fellow in the American College of Physicians and was widely known for his publications which numbered near fifty. He was President of the Federation for Clinical Research-Southern Section, and President of the American Clinical and Climatological Association serving ten years as Secretary-Treasurer and twenty one years on the board of the Association. He served on the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association from 1968-1969, was President of the American Heart Association's Health Promotion Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania for six years, and President of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter. Dr. Wood was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha in 1967. He was presented an award as the Outstanding Medical Alumnus of the year at the annual meeting of the University of Virginia Alumni in 1990.
Dr. Wood grew up in Charlottesville, Va., where his father, a cardiologist, was a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Dr. Wood graduated from Lane High School. He was President of the Junior class and played saxophone in the band there, as well as in the Davidson College band. In the summers, at age fourteen he worked as clean-up man in the physiology research lab of the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia. It was during this time under the guidance and friendship of the famous physiologist, Dr. Eugene Landis, the start of his interest in medical research began. After high school, he spent a year at Davidson College, then entered the Navy V12 program which assigned him to Duke University for his pre-medical training and then to the University of Virginia School of Medicine for the first two years of medical school. After being discharged from the Navy, he transferred from the University of Virginia School of Medicine to Harvard Medical School from which he earned his medical degree in 1949. He stayed in Boston for his resident training and fellowships at Boston University School of Medicine. He became Chief Resident and later a Special Research Fellow, U.S. Public Health Service.
During the Korean War he was Captain and Flight Surgeon at the U.S. Air Force School of Medicine at Randolph Field, Texas. He worked on aircraft oxygen systems, high altitude survival, and other classified top secret research, receiving the Air Force Commendation Ribbon for meritorious service. He presented his work to General Curtis Lemay, USAF Chief of Staff, Strategic Air Command in World War II. His wife, Ann Jones Wood, said he considered his research at Randolph Field his greatest achievement. In 1951 he took part in experiencing from an aircraft ten atomic explosions and testing the effects on the eyes of the men who watched. In 1958, he joined the faculty at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta as Director of the Georgia Heart Association Laboratories for Cardiovascular Research. While in Augusta he published many papers on vascular disease and wrote a book, "The Veinsā", published in1965. After six years in Augusta, he was offered and accepted a Professorship in Medicine and the Virginia Heart Association Research Professor of Cardiovascular Research, and the opportunity to go home to Charlottesville. While at Virginia he coauthored a paper on high altitude pulmonary edema with S. R. Roy, physician to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. This research involved living with the Indian army in the high altitudes of the Himalayas at the Indian army base at Leh. Prime Minister Gandhi had to give her consent for an American to go to this sensitive Indian army base on the border of China. During his five years at Virginia he also served one year as Acting Chairman of the Department of Physiology, was appointed Associate Dean of Medicine and then was acting Dean for a brief period. Knowing that Virginia would be looking for a full time Dean, he choose instead to accept an offer by The University of Pennsylvania to take a Professorship in Medicine and become the Chairman of Medicine at the Pennsylvania Hospital, positions he held for twenty one years. Under the direction of Dr. Wood the medical residency program from 1969-1990 greatly increased in size drawing doctors from well known medical schools, many of whom continue to practice there today. In the tradition of the hospital's motto ""Take care of him and I will repay thee"", Dr. Wood established the J. Edwin Wood Clinic, an independent, nonprofit, full service medical and surgical facility that provides quality health care to adults without regard to their ability to pay.
In 1990, he retired from Pennsylvania Hospital and from the Medical School of Pennsylvania, as Emeritus Professor. He then worked for Correctional Healthcare Solutions, Inc. until he retired in 1996. He and his wife met in high school and were married in 1948. He was interested in all sports but his love was sailing, especially sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. Later in life he took up running and completed five marathons. At age 54, he ran the Boston Marathon in four hours and fifteen minutes, and then nine years later completed running it again. He is survived by his wife of sixty two years, Ann Sherwood Jones Wood, two sons Edwin Duncan Wood and Dr. James Barker Wood, two daughters, Emily Battle Wood Starkey and Ann Jones Wood Gregg, and eleven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
The funeral will be at the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church on Friday, Aug. 20, 2010 at 11 am. Graveside services will be Aug. 23, 2010 at 11 a.m. at Riverview Cemetery in Charlottesville, Va. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the J. Edwin Wood Clinic, 700 Spruce Street, Suite 304, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Chadwick & McKinney Funeral Home, www.chadwickmckinney.com.