Robert W. Putnam, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience, cell biology and physiology, died on Monday, April 10, at the age of 65 after a brief but intense struggle with pancreatic cancer.
Putnam was a world-renowned physiologist and dedicated teacher. His research focused on the cellular neuroscience of acid-sensitive neurons within the brainstem, especially the role of these neurons in the control of breathing and in the genesis of panic disorder. His work was relevant to disorders that involve altered respiratory drive, such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and sleep apnea.
He was born in Wilmington, Delaware. He graduated from Brown University and earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1978. After completing his postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis, he spent 30 years as a professor at Wright State. At the Boonshoft School of Medicine, he served on the admissions committee, created the STREAMS program to increase minority involvement in the sciences and mentored students and junior faculty. He was well published and well respected in the fields of intracellular pH and respiratory physiology.
Putnam is preceded in death by his daughter, Lisa Henson Hammontree. He is survived by his wife, Lois Henson; his daughters, Kathleen Kersh, Anna Kersh and Laura Chambers-Kersh; his grandchildren, Alexander and Hannah Hammontree; his sister and brother-in-law, Carole and Dave Wood; his brother and sister-in-law, Steve and Priscilla Putnam; nieces, a nephew; and great nieces and nephews.
A memorial service in honor of Putnam will be held Friday, April 14, at Ginghamsburg Church (6759 S. County Road 25A, Tipp City, Ohio 45371). Visitation will begin at 10 a.m., and the memorial service will follow at noon. Visitation with friends and family will follow at a luncheon at the church after the service.