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OBITUARIES : Dr. Robert F. Maronde, 1920 - 2008

USC professor helped create artificial kidney

August 30, 2008|Dennis McLellan | Times Staff Writer

Dr. Robert F. Maronde, a professor emeritus at the USC School of Medicine whose accomplishments included co-creating an artificial kidney in the late 1940s and developing an early computerized prescription drug system in the 1960s, has died. He was 88.

Maronde died of natural causes Aug. 16 at his home in Monterey Park, said his son Bob.

Maronde began his more than 50-year academic career at the medical school in 1948 and launched his private practice in internal medicine two years later.

In 1949, in collaboration with Dr. Helen Martin, Maronde implemented a hemodialysis program for acute renal failure at what is now Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. With their creation of an artificial kidney -- it used a stainless-steel beer keg as a reservoir -- they were at the forefront of medical innovation.

In 1955, Maronde and two other physicians started the Hypertension Clinic at County-USC.

And in the late '60s, Maronde developed one of the first -- if not the first -- computerized prescription drug systems, which was launched in the outpatient pharmacy at County-USC.

"Now, of course, all pharmacists use the computer, but in those days nobody did, at least in this area," said Dr. Peter Lee, one of Maronde's colleagues in developing the system. "Here's a doctor who got well enough acquainted with the computer in those days and really led the way."

At USC in the late '60s, Maronde helped develop an interdisciplinary program training pharmacy graduates in a hospital setting; it was one of the first in the specialty of clinical pharmacy.

And in collaboration with Lee in 1970, Maronde developed Med Ocho, a community-based hospital-care program on the eighth floor of County-USC designed to serve the Latino community.

"He was a truly important person, although he never pushed himself to the front, never cared about publicity," Lee said. "As a result, a lot of people, except in his field of hypertension and clinical pharmacology, really don't know what he has done. He was creative and got people to do things that they hadn't thought of doing before."

The son of a physician father, Maronde was born in Monterey Park on Jan. 13, 1920. He graduated from South Pasadena High School in 1937, received his bachelor's degree from USC in 1941 and earned his medical degree from the USC School of Medicine in 1944. He was a ship's doctor while on active duty in the Naval Reserve in 1946-47.

Maronde was on the staffs at St. Luke Medical Center in Pasadena, Huntington Hospital in Pasadena and Good Samaritan Hospital in L.A. during his time in private practice.

In 1968, he became the first chairman of the new division of clinical pharmacology at the USC School of Medicine. He stayed there until 1990.

He also served on numerous medical panels, including County-USC's Pharmacy and Therapeutic Committee and its drug subcommittee.

He retired from the medical school in 1990 but remained active as professor emeritus until 2000.

In addition to his son Bob, he is survived by his wife, Yolanda; his other children, Donna Varnau, James and Craig; six grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Instead of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the USC Athletic Scholarship Fund, in care of Ron Orr, USC Heritage Hall, 3501 Watt Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0602.

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dennis.mclellan@latimes.com

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