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William R. Milnor

The Baltimore Sun

William R. Milnor, a retired cardiologist and scientist at the Johns Hopkins medical institutions for more than 40 years, died Thursday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Monkton resident was 87 and succumbed to age-related problems.

Dr. Milnor joined the Johns Hopkins Hospital staff and its Department of Medicine faculty in 1951 as a specialist in internal medicine and cardiology.

According to an autobiography he prepared, much of his work was devoted to the evaluation and medical care of patients who were potential candidates for heart surgery, a relatively new and rapidly developing field in the 1950s.

"He was productive in research, a good teacher and was a physician of the highest scientific standards," said Dr. Richard S. Ross, the former dean of the Hopkins School of Medicine. "He was an accomplished student of the circulation of blood and he used higher mathematics to study the flow of blood."

Dr. Milnor's early research demonstrated the diagnostic information provided by expanding the conventional electrocardiogram to three dimensions. He also collaborated with Dr. William Kouwenhoven, the inventor of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, from 1954 to 1958 in the development of that technique.

In 1969, he turned to basic science and was appointed professor of physiology. His investigations, which he reported in a variety of scientific journals and meetings, concerned the molecular receptors that mediate constriction and dilation of the blood vessels as well as the mechanics of the circulatory system.

He was the author of Hemodynamics, a monograph on the physical principles that govern the function of the heart and the control of blood pressure, and Cardiovascular Physiology, a textbook.

He retired in 1990 and occasionally delivered lectures and papers on medical and scientific matters.

Born in Wilmington, Del., Dr. Milnor earned an undergraduate degree at Princeton University and his medical degree at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1944. On the day of graduation from medical school, he married Gabriella Mahaffy.

After internship and residency training, he entered the Army and was assigned to the Air Force. He was a flight surgeon in the Pacific and with the army of occupation in Japan.

He left the military in 1948 and received a research fellowship from the National Heart Institute to study at Hopkins. In 1951, he was named to the Hopkins medical faculty and to the staff of Hopkins Hospital, where he was associate director of the adult cardiac clinic. He ran what the hospital called its heart station, where he recorded and interpreted electrocardiograms. He was chairman of the medical school admissions committee from 1966 to 1968.

Dr. Milnor was active with the American Heart Association, serving as chairman of its Research Committee from 1966 to 1967 and was president of its Maryland affiliate from 1963 to 1966.

He was a scientific consultant to NASA and the Australian National Medical Research Council. During an academic sabbatical, he was a visiting fellow of St. Catherine's College, Oxford, England, and later served as an exchange professor at Guy's Hospital in London.

No services are planned.

He is survived by a son, William H. Milnor of Monkton; a daughter, Katherine A. Milnor of Mobile, Ala.; and a grandson, R. J. Milnor-Beard of Norfolk, Va. His wife died in 1982.


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