In Memoriam

Dr. Robert P. Heaney, 1927-2016

The Move it or Lose it 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk is held this year in memory of Dr. Robert P. Heaney, M.D.

Dr. Heaney, a distinguished professor of medicine, world-renowned researcher in the field of bone biology and vitamin D and the first holder of the John A. Creighton University Professorship, at Creighton University, died of brain cancer on Aug. 6, 2016.

Dr. Heaney completed his undergraduate and medical degrees at Creighton. He interned and served his residency in Internal Medicine at St. Louis City Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, and served Research Fellowships at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He has held faculty appointments at the University of Oklahoma, at George Washington University, and at Creighton, where for nine years he served as Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine from 1961-1969. Dr. Heaney was Creighton's first Vice-President for Health Sciences, a position he held from 1971-1984, and since 1984 has held the all-university chair named in honor of the University's founder.

Dr. Heaney worked for over 50 years in the study of osteoporosis, vitamin D, and calcium physiology. He authored three books and  published over 400 original papers, chapters, monographs and reviews in scientific and educational fields. The major theme of his work was quantitative physiology, for example, the elucidation of how much vitamin D was necessary to produce the nutrient's canonical effect on calcium absorption, how much vitamin D is metabolized each day, how much vitamin D is synthesized in the skin, and the degree to which skin pigmentation modifies that synthesis, how much vitamin D is stored, and the extent to which input levels modify that change.

At the same time, he engaged nutritional policy issues and helped redefine the context for estimating nutrient requirements. Specifically, he showed that nutrient deficiencies produce long-latency disease as well as their classical acute disorders, and focused attention on the inadequacy of drug-based research designs for the evaluation of nutrient efficacy.

Register or Donate