Dr. George Blackburn, Boston physician and leader in nutrition medicine, dies at 81

Revered clinician and researcher George Blackburn, MD, PhD, a leader in the study of obesity and nutritional medicine, died at his home in Boston Feb. 20 at the age of 81, according to The New York Times.

Here are seven things to know about Dr. Blackburn.

1. Dr. Blackburn spent 45 years as a member of the department of surgery at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and was named director of the Feihe Nutrition Laboratory at the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

2. Since 1998, he held the S. Daniel Abraham Professorship in Nutrition at Harvard Medical School.

3. Dr. Blackburn, along with Bruce Bistrian, MD, PhD, chief of clinical nutrition at BIDMC and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, provided the foundation for the field of nutritional medicine, according to The NYT.

4. Throughout his career, Dr. Blackburn was instrumental in the development of liquid and solid diets, emphasizing the necessity of protein to lose body fat while preserving muscle. His research "became the basis for the low-carb and the very-low-calorie diet for obesity," a former colleague told The NYT.

5. In 2005, he reportedly resigned from his position on the advisory council on balanced lifestyles for fast-food giant McDonald's, stating the company did not incorporate his message of healthy eating and exercise into its health education campaign, according to the report.

6. According to The NYT, Dr. Blackburn was born Feb. 12, 1936, in McPherson, Kan. He received his medical degree in 1965 from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City and received his doctorate in nutritional biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

7. He is survived by his first and second wives, four children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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