Vladimir Fencl
1923-2002

Vladimir Fencl (1923-2002), (photograph) Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, died from cancer on January 14, 2002 at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Fencl was born on March 27, 1923 in Kryry, Czechoslovakia. In 1941 he was graduated from the Gymnasium in Plzen. He received his medical degree in 1949 from Charles University, and his C.Sc. (Ph.D.) in 1961 from the Czechoslovak Academy of Science, Prague. Dr. Fencl was a postgraduate trainee at Frydek Hospital (1949-1951), Thomayer Hospital in Prague (1951-1954), and Harvard Medical School in Boston (1962-1964). He began his career at the Cardiovascular Institute of Prague where he worked until 1966.

Dr. Fencl moved to Norway in 1966 and spent one year as research stipendiary at the Cancer and Heart Associations in the University of Oslo. He returned to Boston in 1967 after receiving an invitation to join the Department of Physiology at Harvard Medical School (1967-1974). Dr. Fencl remained at Harvard Medical School as Associate Professor of Anesthesia at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (1974-1980), and as Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of Respiratory Care at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston.

Dr. Fencl was an expert in the physiology of respiration, body fluids, and acid-base balance. While in Boston, Dr. Fencl corresponded with Dr. Peter A. Stewart and provided crucial help during the development of Stewart's classic book entitled "How to Understand Acid-Base: A Quantitative Acid-Base Primer for Biology and Medicine" (1981, Elsevier). Dr. Stewart presented a copy of the published book to Dr. Fencl and inscribed the following inside the front cover: "Vlad: Very many thanks for all your help and encouragement and appropriate, but always gentle, criticism! Peter".

After retiring as a physician in 1990, Dr. Fencl continued with his research activities on acid-base disturbances in critical care medicine. As part of a decade-long collaboration (1990-2001), Dr. Fencl co-authored four original research papers with Dr. James Figge (see below), elucidating the role of serum proteins in human acid-base balance, and developing a comprehensive mathematical model that could systematically characterize the acid-base status of human plasma. Dr. Figge had originally trained under Dr. Fencl as a medical resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (1983-1986). Drs. Thomas H. Rossing and Thomas Mydosh were co-authors on the 1991 and 1992 papers, respectively. Drs. Antonín Jabor and Antonín Kazda of the Czech Republic joined the research collaboration and co-authored the last two of these publications.

Dr. Fencl was widely admired by his collaborators, colleagues and students. He was characterized as an erudite, insightful and gentlemanly physician-scholar-teacher. One colleague stated that Dr. Fencl 'endowed each of his trainees and colleagues with his finest qualities. His legacy will live on'.


Dr. Fencl is survived by his wife Montserrat.

Original Research Publications Co-Authored by Drs. Fencl and Figge:

1. James Figge, Thomas H. Rossing, and Vladimir Fencl. The role of serum proteins in acid-base equilibria. The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine. 1991; 117:453-467. [ Abstract on PubMed ].

2. James Figge, Thomas Mydosh, and Vladimir Fencl. Serum proteins and acid-base equilibria: a follow-up. The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine. 1992; 120:713-719. [ Abstract on PubMed ].

3. James Figge, Antonín Jabor, Antonín Kazda, and Vladimir Fencl. Anion gap and hypoalbuminemia. Critical Care Medicine. 1998; 26:1807-1810. [ Abstract on PubMed ].

4. Vladimir Fencl, Antonín Jabor, Antonín Kazda, and James Figge. Diagnosis of metabolic acid-base disturbances in critically ill patients. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2000; 162:2246-2251. [ Full text is available online at http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/ajrccm.162.6.9904099 ].

[ See also the online supplement, which is accessible at http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/suppl/10.1164/ajrccm.162.6.9904099 ].

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