Remembering emeritus faculty member Ronald Filo

Mar. 6, 2014

The IU School of Medicine lost a remarkable emeritus faculty member Feb. 17 with the death of Ronald S. Filo, M.D., at the age of 74.

Ronald Filo

Dr. Filo examines human kidneys being preserved in a portable unit in this undated archival image. | PHOTO COURTESY IUPUI ARCHIVES

Dr. Filo, who contributed nearly 30 years of leadership to IU, served as a professor of surgery at the IU School of Medicine and chief of organ transplantation at the IU Medical Center, from 1974 to 2003. 

"Ronald was a tireless worker and extraordinary patient advocate who put the transplant program together from the bottom up, and instilled quality in every facet of the program,” said Joseph A. Tector, M.D., professor of surgery and medical and molecular genetics at the IU School of Medicine and chief of abdominal transplantation at IU Health.

Dr. Tector also praised Dr. Filo’s scientific contribution to the field of transplantation as "30 years ahead of its time" due to his "understanding of the profound positive impact of pulsatile perfusion on long-term kidney transplant survival."

Dr. Filo joined the IU faculty in 1974 as an assistant professor of surgery at the IU School of Medicine, where he served for 29 years. He also served as chief of organ transplantation for Clarian Health (later IU Health) from 1997-2003.

“Ronald was a brilliant and talented surgeon, a unique caregiver and compassionate physician," said Stephen Leapman, M.D., professor of surgery emeritus at the IU School of Medicine, who served as Dr. Filo’s surgical partner for 25 years. "He never failed to put the patient first, despite many calls from individual academic institutions and individuals to institute new protocols that might or might not be good for the patient. If it wasn’t in the best interest of the patient, it never made its way onto the transplant unit."

Ronald Filo

Ronald S. Filo, M.D.

Dr. Filo's favorite adage was: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still," added Dr. Leapman, who is also the Dolores and John Read Professor Emeritus of Medical Education and Frank C. and Ruby L. Moore and George T. Lukemeyer Professor Emeritus at the IU School of Medicine.

Dr. Filo earned a graduate and medical degree from University of Michigan, graduating in 1965 as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed an internship at Philadelphia General Hospital, a residency at the University of Michigan and a research fellowship at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor. He then spent three years studying the physiology of transplantation at the National Institutes of Health and three years in transplantation immunology at the Naval Medical Research Institute. He began his academic career with a year at George Washington University, after which he joined IU.

Dr. Filo is survived by his wife, Marilyn, and three children. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Indiana University School of Medicine to support transplant research. Memorial gifts should be payable to the IU Foundation, P.O. Box 6460, Indianapolis, IN  46206-6460, with “In memory of Ronald Filo, M.D.” indicated on the gift.

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