Returning to Research

After nearly 40 years of service to patients and students at Wayne State University School of Medicine, Eberhard Mammen, MD, is retiring from his clinical and faculty positions to do what he's always loved best- research.

By Amy DiCresce

"I went to medical school in Germany, intending to take over my father's family practice," Dr. Mammen recalls. "But somewhere along the way, I got interested in research and co-authored three papers before I even graduated."
Dr. Mammen has done much more than just research, however, during his career at the WSU School of Medicine. Since joining Wayne State in 1958 as a Fulbright scholar in the department of physiology and pharmacology, he has established himself as an outstanding scientist, educator, administrator and clinician. Internationally recognized for his expertise in the field of hemostasis, Dr. Mammen is a leading authority in the use of mini-dose heparin in prophylactic treatment of deep vein thrombosis, and he consults frequently with physicians around the world in matters of blood coagulation, bleeding disorders and patient treatments.

As full-time professor in three academic departments. Dr. Mammen has mentored and educated many medical students and PhD candidates, earning their deepest respect and gratitude. In fact, his students honored him five times with the esteemed LAMP award, which is presented each year to the basic science faculty member who provides the most valuable and rewarding learning experience.

Dr. Mammen was recruited from the University of Marburg/Lahn to Wayne State in the late 1950s to work as a research associate in the lab of Dr. Walter Seegers. Together, they made many important discoveries and were the first scientists to describe protein C, an inhibitor recognized today as one of the major blood clotting regulator proteins.

"At that time, our laboratory was the only one looking at coagulation from a biochemical standpoint. Dr. Seegers was also the first to isolate clotting factors from plasma, prove their existence and characterize them," Dr. Mammen said. Based on scientific evidence such as this, a reference lab was established to study why patients were bleeding or clotting.

In the midst of his research in 1960, Dr. Mammen wasn't sure if he wanted to give up clinical practice, so he went back to Germany to finish his internal medicine residency. By 1962, Dr. Mammen returned to Wayne State to become an assistant professor in physiology and pharmacology, where he took up research, but continued seeing patients as well. He quickly rose to full professor in physiology and pharmacology and did the same in the departments of pathology and obstetrics & gynecology.

As clinician and basic scientist, Dr. Mammen sees a great need for various disciplines to work together. "I'm a firm believer that you cannot know everything," Dr. Mammen said. "In order to do optimal service to a patient, doctors and health care professionals have to develop an interdisciplinary approach in their diagnosis and treatment . "

While Dr. Mammen served as Wayne State University's dean of pharmacy and allied health professions from 1974 to 1982, universities and medical centers across the country were developing a new practice called clinical pharmacy. Dr. Mammen designed an innovative curriculum which integrated anatomy, pathology, physiology and clinical medicine courses, and allowed allied health professions to make hospital rounds with physicians.

"I felt the pharmacy profession had more to offer than dispensing medications," Dr. Mammen said. "By diversifying education and training, pharmacists became experts in therapeutics and drug interactions and they became more familiar with the diseases targeted for treatments."

Dr. Mammen was already advocating such interdisciplinary philosophies when The Detroit Medical Center (DMC) was first established. He says he sometimes feels like the "black sheep of the family" because he is both scientist and clinician and he refuses to be one-sided. Today, he is technical director of the DMC coagulation laboratory and he directs WSU coagulation research at the Mott Center.

Dr. Mammen is currently associate editor of American Journal of Hematology and of Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis, editor-in-chief for Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis, Biomedical Progress, Clinical Trends in Coagulation and Fibrinolysis, and he's on the editorial boards of three journals. In addition, he has published nearly 300 articles and chapters, and has made hundreds of presentations in the United States and abroad.

As Dr. Mammen retires from clinical practice, he is being honored with the establishment of the Eberhard F. Mammen Endowed Conference, an annual program devoted to interdisciplinary approaches to clinical therapeutics. He envisions the ongoing conference as a common ground for researchers, physicians and other health care providers to share ideas.

"Although my primary love is science and research," Dr. Mammen said, "I can't get excited unless my findings can somehow help a patient. There's always a patient."

And for Dr. Eberhard Mammen, there will also always be research.

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