August 8, 1924–June 7, 2002
BY JAMES B. WYNGAARDEN
DONALD FREDRICKSON, eminent physician-scientist, former director of the National Institutes of Health, and first full-time president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, died suddenly on June 7, 2002, two months short of his seventy-eighth birthday. Fredrickson was semi-retired, living in Bethesda, Maryland, at his home of 50 years, where he swam in his back-yard pool every day. That morning his wife, Priscilla, found him floating in the pool. He could not be revived; the official cause of death was listed as drowning. Donald Fredrickson was buried in Rhijnhof, near Leyden, in the Netherlands on June 13, 2002.
Fredrickson was born and raised in Canon City, Colorado, where his father was a lawyer. He attended the University of Colorado for one year during World War II, before being transferred by the Army to the University of Michigan, where he earned a B.S. in 1946, and an M.D. with distinction in 1949.
An event in medical school profoundly changed his life. During a third-year elective he met a Dutch anesthesiologist
Reprinted from Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (vol. 148, pt. 3, Sept. 2004) with minor additions. Courtesy of the American Philosophical Society.