Richard Hays

Richard Hays

As posted on the Albert Einstein College of Medicine website.

Dr. Richard M. Hays, professor emeritus of medicine at Einstein, died Thanksgiving morning in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was 85.

A graduate of Harvard College (anthropology) and the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Hays did his residency in internal medicine at Beth Israel, Boston, and did renal research training at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

He joined Einstein's faculty in 1960 and was director of the division of nephrology at Einstein from 1979 to 1988. He trained and/or recruited such academicians as Detlef Schlondorff, Christos Carvounis, Pravin Singhal, Nick Franki, Sherman Levine, and others.

He published two landmark papers in the prestigious Journal of General Physiology with Alex Leaf of Harvard's Mass General Hospital.

The first of these established the toad urinary bladder as a model system for studying water metabolism and antidiuretic hormone (ADH) response.

The second provided insights into the dynamic transport of molecules across cell membranes. This work laid the groundwork for the subsequent discovery of aquaporins (proteins embedded in cell membranes that regulate water flow into and out of cells) for which Peter Agre was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Dr. Hays’ subsequent work explored inhibitors of aquaporins (also known as water channels), their ultrastructural nature, and the process of membrane recycling. Much of this work dovetailed with contemporaneous work on membrane channels by Einstein colleague Alan Finkelstein.

Dr. Hays began his second career – in medical education – in the 1990s, when Einstein’s Dean Dr. Dominick P. Purpura established the division of education. Dr. Hays headed the committee that organized the division and had a prominent role in developing the medical school curriculum at the time. He also took over the Einstein renal course and led it to consistently rave reviews by the students. He was given Einstein’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003.