Remembering Robert Walker Harrison, III, MD

robert harrison

Robert Walker  Harrison III, MD, passed away on May 3, 2023.  Harrison was a native Mississippian, a graduate of Tougaloo College (Class of 1961)  and the Northwestern University Medical School (Class of 1966).  After medical school, he served in the United States Navy as a commissioned officer, stationed in Newport, R.I.  He then completed an internal medicine residency at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University and the University of Connecticut, followed by an endocrinology fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

Harrison had long, distinguished career in academic medicine that included faculty appointments at Vanderbilt University, Columbia University, the University of Arkansas, and the University of Rochester. During that time, in addition to a clinical practice, he led a laboratory that investigated the basic, molecular mechanisms of glucorticoid action. He authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers, review articles and book chapters while being supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. For seven of those years, Harrison  was an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. 

At Arkansas and Rochester, he directed the Division of Endocrinology as well as  weight loss programs. While at the University of Rochester, he conducted several clinical trials including studies of weight loss medications (e.g., Sibutramine and Xenical). In 2001, Harrison became an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Rochester while continuing be active professionally as a part-time practicing physician, and as a consultant on drug development and on minority recruitment in clinical trials for the National Medical Association.

Harrison was active in numerous local Rochester community and civic organizations including the YMCA, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Gamma Iota Boule, the Black Physicians Network of Greater Rochester, the Rochester Police Accountability Board and the Baber A.M.E.  Church.

He will be remembered as a family man, a dedicated and caring physician, an accomplished academician and exemplary educator, and as a role model and mentor especially for African American students.

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