James Luby, M.D., an infectious disease specialist, epidemiologist, and 55-year member of the UT Southwestern faculty, has been appointed Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine.
A native of Chicago, Dr. Luby earned his medical degree with distinction at Northwestern University. He then finished residency training at Northwestern and Parkland Memorial Hospital and completed a fellowship in infectious diseases at UT Southwestern. Before his career at UT Southwestern, Dr. Luby spent a couple of years as an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the U.S. Public Health Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
“I did all kinds of exciting things at the CDC, such as working up an epidemic of St. Louis encephalitis in Houston. I was assigned to travel around India as part of a combined evaluation [U.S. and India] of their malaria-eradication program. It was really a great learning experience for a young physician,” Dr. Luby said.
He joined the faculty of UT Southwestern in 1967 and has served the University in multiple ways during his tenure, including as Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases from 1975 to 1997. For many years, Dr. Luby headed UT Southwestern’s viral diagnostics lab.
On one occasion, Dr. Luby helped get to the bottom of an epidemic of histoplasmosis on campus in 1989. “Histoplasmosis is often associated with birds, and our first guess was that it was being caused by the egrets on campus, but that turned out not to be the case. We tracked it down to soil that was probably brought in as part of multiple building projects and construction activities,” he said.
Dr. Luby treated patients with problems as disparate as nontuberculous mycobacterial and HIV infections. He is the author of myriad research articles, case reports, and editorials on topics including St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile and herpes viruses, and hospital-acquired infections.
Through the years, Dr. Luby has taken great pleasure in teaching. He was honored with an Outstanding Professor Award in 1973 and an Outstanding Teacher Award in 1981. He also served as graduation marshal several times. In 2016, UT Southwestern established a Professorship in his honor, which is currently held by Michael Shiloh, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology.
“Dr. Luby has been the quintessential physician-scientist for over 50 years. He has treated countless patients, educated and trained thousands of students, residents, and fellows, and led critical virology research. As he transitions to Professor Emeritus, I am confident many more individuals will benefit and learn from his encyclopedic knowledge of infectious diseases,” Dr. Shiloh said.
“For generations of trainees and colleagues, Dr. Luby was the face of infectious disease clinical training, research, and education on our campus,” added James Cutrell, M.D., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine. “His research contributions to our understanding of the epidemiology and management of neurotrophic viral infections have been seminal work in the field of infectious disease.”
Dr. Luby said he hopes to continue his work, especially mentoring future physicians.