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Published in CenterView on February 11, 2013
Dr. Julius Cruse
Dr. Julius Cruse

Immunopathologists the world over contribute to publications feting UMMC pathologist

By Jack Mazurak

Two scientific journals are publishing Festschrift editions to honor Dr. Julius Cruse in recognition of his 47 years of contributions to immunopathology and his role as mentor to scores of students, faculty and colleagues.

Cruse, Guyton Distinguished Professor of Pathology, Medicine and Microbiology, joined the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1967 and still maintains a packed schedule as vice chair of pathology.

Festschrift issues are special editions composed of articles contributed by colleagues or students. The journal Experimental and Molecular Pathology published a Festschrift issue for Cruse in December 2012. A Festschrift issue of the journal Immunologic Research is scheduled for release this spring.

For Cruse, big-name immunopathologists came out in force. Researchers and professors from Israel, Germany, Italy, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, UCLA, the Salk Institute and other institutions contributed articles.

“I had no inclination these publications were coming,” Cruse said. “I’m both humbled and honored that so many distinguished researchers would submit their work for the Festschrift issues.”

The immunopathology sub-discipline grew from a scattering of microbiologist and immunologist researchers and theorists in the 1920s and ‘30s. Some trace their connections directly to Louis Pasteur.

By the late 1950s, when Cruse began exploring the newly defined field as a Fulbright Scholar in Europe, he met and surrounded himself with leading experts. Inside a decade, Cruse had joined that widening group of experts. And within half a lifetime, he’d become a pillar of the specialty.

Cruse completed his undergraduate degrees in chemistry and German at Ole Miss in 1958 and completed a research degree at the University of Graz Medical School, Austria, on a Fulbright scholarship. He then earned his M.D. and Ph.D. in pathology and immunopathology at the University of Tennessee Medical Units, now the UT Health Science Center.

After completing postdoctoral work, Cruse had a lecture in pathology appointment at UT Memphis, then joined the Ole Miss faculty in medicine and graduate studies as a full professor at age 29. In accepting the position, he became the University’s first professor of immunology.

Cruse’s first book, ”An Immunology Exam Review Book,” was published in 1971. It led off a list that includes the Illustrated Dictionary of Immunology and the Atlas of Immunology. To date, Cruse has written more than 300 scientific and medical research articles and served on editorial boards of numerous journals.

Dr. Noel Rose, professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins University and a leading expert and elder statesman in the field, wrote an article, “The Birth of Immunopathology: How I Went to Paris and Met Julius Cruse,” for the December Festschrift issue.

Rose describes their first meeting when he toured Cruse through a laboratory at the Pasteur Institute where Rose was a visiting fellow. He immediately recognized Cruse’s interest in immunology, pathology and the history of science.

“In the following years we remained in contact and I realized that he was equally active in promoting and improving communication among scientists,” Rose wrote, noting that Cruse continues contributing to the recording of immunology’s history and promoting scientific communications.

The force behind the two Festschrifts issues is Dr. Robert Lewis, a former student and longtime colleague of Cruse. He said keeping the efforts concealed became quite a task as Cruse serves as editor-in-chief of both journals.

“He’s actually editor-in-chief of three journals,” said Lewis, professor of pathology. “Keeping him out of what was going on was the difficult thing. We’re both on all the same mailing lists so, in corresponding with the contributing authors, I had to be very careful.”

Beyond his work in immunopathology, Cruse maintains other interests. Over half a century, he amassed a 3,000-plus volume collection of modernist poet and playwright T.S. Elliot’s works.

Following Cruse’s donation of the collection to the Christopher Keller Jr. Library in New York City in the 1990s, the archive was finally transferred to Emory University’s Manuscript and Rare Books Library.