In memoriam: Karl D. Nolph, MD, 1937-2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 | 2:48 p.m. CDT; updated 5:13 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Karl D. Nolph, M.D., a pioneer in the field of dialysis and a longtime leader of the University of Missouri School of Medicine’s Division of Nephrology, died Monday, June 16, at his home in Columbia. He was 77.

Services for Nolph will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, June 20, at Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 S. Ninth St. in Columbia.

Throughout his nearly 45 years of service to University of Missouri Health System, Nolph held many roles, including serving as director of the Division of Nephrology from 1974 to 1999. He was the recipient of the Loren E. Broaddus Distinguished Professorship in 1984 and the University of Missouri Board of Curators’ Professorship in 1988.

A native of Brookville, Pennsylvania, Nolph was born Feb. 6, 1937. He graduated from the Brookville school system in 1955. In 1959, he completed his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia in 1963. He interned at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Pennsylvania from 1963 to 1964, and continued his residency in internal medicine until 1966. From 1965 to 1966, he served as chief medical resident at Bryn Mawr Hospital. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship in renal-electrolyte disorders at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967.

Nolph served as a major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1967 to 1969. During this time, he served as a research internist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research’s Department of Metabolism, as well as a renal consultant to Walter Reed General Hospital. He joined the MU School of Medicine’s Division of Nephrology in 1969 as an assistant professor of medicine. Upon his retirement in 1999, he continued to work as the chair of the Annual Dialysis Conference and teach residents, fellows and colleagues on a regular basis.

“In the world of kidney failure treatments, the name Karl Nolph is synonymous with peritoneal dialysis, a form of home dialysis,” said Ramesh Khanna, M.D., professor of medicine and the Karl D. Nolph Chair of Nephrology in the MU School of Medicine. “He pioneered the study of this therapy, and his work has improved the lives of patients with kidney failure internationally.

“Karl was humility personified,” Khanna said. “Despite his legendary status, he was a very simple and approachable person. His door was always open for anyone to walk into his office and have a conversation. He cared for his staff and colleagues as family, and he will be deeply missed.”

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