Eleanor Ison-Franklin
Ison-Franklin

Eleanor Lutia Ison-Franklin

Eleanor L. Ison-Franklin, long-time cochair of the Porter Physiology Development Committee, died at her home in Washington, DC on October 1, 1998.

Born on Christmas Eve in 1929 in Dublin, Georgia, Ison-Franklin graduated valedictorian from Carver High School in 1944 and Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Spelman College in 1948. She was awarded a Master of Science in 1951, followed by a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1957 in zoology by the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Between degrees and during the time she was working on her degrees, Ison-Franklin began a life-long commitment to teaching. She worked as an Instructor at Spelman College in the Department of Biology and as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Ison-Franklin’s first appointment was as an Assistant and then Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee Institute. She was then hired in 1963 by the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Howard University in Washington, DC. She steadily rose through the ranks at Howard University, being promoted to Professor in 1971. At the same time, Ison-Franklin’s talent at administration was duly noted, such that in 1970 she was named Associate Dean for Administration for the College of Medicine at Howard, the first woman to hold a deanship in the 103-year history of the University. In 1972 she was made Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Medicine. In 1980 she was asked to also serve as the Director of the Edward W. Hawthorne Laboratory for Cardiovascular Research, a position which she held until 1985. In 1987, Howard University asked her to take on the challenge of a new position, that of Dean of the School of Continuing Education. Ison-Franklin held that position while maintaining her laboratory and training of graduate students in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. She retired from these positions in July 1997. For her many accomplishments and great service to Howard University, Ison-Franklin was designated a “Magnificent Professor” in May 1998.

Ison-Franklin’s research focused on three areas: cardiac performance in conscious animals, experimental hypertension, and left ventricular hypertrophy. Much of her research was done in collaboration with Edward W. Hawthorne. She was a constant attendee at the FASEB and later the Experimental Biology meetings, including the most recent Experimental Biology ‘98 held this past April in San Francisco, CA.

Among the numerous awards and recognition Ison-Franklin received were many from her alma mater, Spelman College, including a Centennial Citation for extraordinary contributions to the development and strengthening of the National Alumnae Association (1981) and election to that group’s Alumnae Hall of Fame (1987). She was also given citations for Outstanding and Dedicated Service (1980) and Outstanding Contributions to Graduate Education (1975/76) from Howard University. She was also twice elected Faculty Trustee representing the Graduate and Professional Schools to the Board of Trustees of Howard University (1981-84 and 1984-87). Ison-Franklin was selected as a Porter Lecturer in 1967 and retained that designation until her retirement in 1997.

Ison-Franklin was a member of many scientific organizations in addition to The American Physiological Society, which she joined in 1971. She was a charter member of the American Society of Hypertension and was active in both the American Heart Association, serving on Ad Hoc Committees and on the Basic Science Council, and in the Washington Heart Association. IsonFranklin served on the local committee of the XXIV Congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences held in Washington, DC in 1968. In addition, she was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, Sigma Xi, AAAS, Sigma Delta Epsilon Women’s Scientific Fraternity, and Phi Sigma Honorary Biological Society.

Perhaps what Ison-Franklin will best be remembered for will be her great love of teaching and advising students on how to live both in the laboratory and beyond. In her capacity as Cochair of the Porter Physiology Development Committee from 1984 until the time of her death, she touched the lives of over 100 minority students, helping them along in their careers and then, at the right time, letting them go on to realize their full potential. She continued to participate in the instruction of undergraduates as a Visiting Lecturer in the physiology course at Spelman College. Her commitment was to excellence in all things, with an attitude of respect toward all people. Her Eleanor Lutia Ison-Franklin (1929-1998) Eleanor Ison-Franklin 438 The Physiologist Obituary skill at critiquing a student’s research while at the same time elevating the stature of that insecure student about to make his/her first scientific presentation was legendary. In her own words at the time of her acknowledgment as a “Magnificent Professor”:

“It is axiomatic that the only true rewards of an academic career are the successes of one’s students. Therefore, I am witness to my rewards as I look around....They sit as chairs of departments, directors of programs, chiefs of divisions, deans, vice presidents, and researchers. They are also clinical health providers, health physicians, dentists, therapists, and technicians. I hope that in some small way, I have stimulated their development and have imparted to them a modicum of their knowledge. Of course, it is not enough that there has been the transmission of facts between me and the young men and women with whom I have been privileged to learn and think and solve problems. I hope that through all of the many engagements with my students, I have also succeeded in imparting some time-honored values, which they have been able to incorporate into their lives, their practices, and their interpersonal relationships. Among these that I hold most high are integrity and continuous learning.”

The American Physiological Society owes a huge debt of gratitude to Eleanor Ison-Franklin for many years of diligence and hard work on behalf of the Society and its minority members. Her sound advice, good judgement, and keen insight will be sorely missed.
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