Dr. Dale Hammerschmidt

Dr. Dale Hammerschmidt

Dr. Dale Hammerschmidt died April 5, 2022 of a glioblastoma at the age of 75. He was my beloved husband for almost 46 years.

This terrible malignancy robbed him of his eloquence and brilliant analytical abilities, but could not extinguish his passion for life and service. He wanted to beat this cancer, while making as much of a contribution as possible to the knowledge of how to treat it. We made his Caring Bridge site into a resource for how to explore treatment choices, and we checked out many glioblastoma support services. The Musella Foundation's combination of direct help and advice to patients, funding for promising research, advocacy for better research strategies, and support and assistance for providers was a great fit to Dale's own efforts as a cancer researcher and compassionate and dedicated clinician. We used the services of the xCures and xInform spin-offs from the Foundation to help guide our choices, and we benefitted from the information provided on the Virtual Trials site and in its published guide.

I'm copying excerpts from the Hematology/Oncology Department's announcement of Dale's death:

Dr. Hammerschmidt will be remembered as a caring physician, passionate scholar, and devoted teacher to many students, residents, fellows, and faculty at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He leaves behind an indelible impression, not because of his 60s style ponytail and long beard, but because of his breadth of his knowledge, wit as a communicator, and intelligent passion as an advocate for medical ethics. He was the consummate educator, and anyone who had the privilege of attending his lectures on coagulation or Grand Rounds will remember the clarity of his teachings and his charming sense of humor. He was a long-time friend to many across the Medical School and will be remembered for his distinguished service to the medical profession.

Dr. Hammerschimdt received his M.D. from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1970. He completed his internal medicine residency and hematology fellowship at the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty in the HOT division in 1979, where he specialized in hematologic disorders. His research, funded by the NIH for decades, focused on complement activation, neutrophil biology, inflammation, and coagulation. He was centrally involved in the seminal work that led to the recognition of the importance of complement activation and granulocytes in tissue injury. His clinical expertise encompassed all of hematology from leukemia and lymphoma to coagulation, bleeding problems, and hemophilia. He was the go-to person for complicated patients with rare disorders that no one else could diagnose.

In the early 1990s, he developed an interest in the bioethics of human research. In his own words, he was the "due diligence officer -- part cop—more coach" for the Department of Medicine. Because of his keen interest in the rhetoric of the consent interaction, Dr. Hammerschmidt also held an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Rhetoric. He first served on an institutional review board in 1976 and was heavily involved in regulatory affairs and research ethics at the University of Minnesota throughout his career. His interest in research ethics grew as he dealt first-hand with the problems related to consent among patients facing devastating diagnoses. He published extensively on issues related to informed consent, privacy and confidentiality protection, disparities in health care and health care research, inadequacies in the oversight of research involving human participants, and other ethical issues related to clinical trials. Dr. Hammerschmidt also served as Senior Editor and then as Editor in Chief of The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine for 15 years.

At the time of his retirement in 2014, Dr. Hammerschmidt embraced his other passion - cycling. Friends and colleagues recall Dr. Hammerschmidt arriving on campus or at clinic on his recumbent tricycle or velomobile. He and his wife Mary participated in many cycling events, covering thousands of miles together in the United States and Europe. He and Mary shared a great passion for bringing the joy of cycling to people of all abilities and disabilities through the Twin Cities Adaptive Cycling program, a community-based adaptive bike share program for youth & adults with disabilities. Dr. Hammerschmidt's was a beloved and generous physician who was deeply committed to his colleagues and patients. He embodied the highest values of academic medicine and will be deeply missed.

In our eight years of retirement, we enjoyed raising and releasing monarch butterflies and creating a habitat for them and other wildlife in our urban garden, where we could share our passion for bugs, birds, and blooms with the neighborhood children. We grew and shared vegetables, including some very hot peppers. In the winter, we lined the sidewalk with ice luminaries, lit with candles that Dale recycled from used wax. Dale loved bicycling, and he was passionate about sharing the opportunity to cycle with people who could not, for one reason or another, ride a conventional two-wheeler. Our own efforts were limited at first. Our cycling interests had led us to connections with manufacturers of adaptive equipment in Europe and Australia. We filled in one year as translators for an Australian manufacturer of trikes at a German expo for "special" bikes (the Spezialradmesse in Germershiem, Germany) and returned a couple more times to help with demonstrating the use of three-wheelers for adaptive cycling. That led to visits with manufacturers and increasing familiarity with the range of cycling hardware available in places where the infrastructure and interest in cycling for everybody are a social priority. We began to watch for used equipment to become available that we could match to the needs of other riders. It was a small, private effort out of our garage. We could help only those riders who could store, transport, and maintain - and afford, even at cost for used equipment - the special bikes.

Dale was excited to volunteer with a new program in Minneapolis for adaptive cycling. Riders wouldn't have to own, maintain, store, or transport the bikes, but could just come and ride on the lovely bike trails around the city. Twin Cities Adaptive Cycling has been our primary volunteer activity for the past five years, with a partial pause in 2020 for the pandemic. Dale especially loved riding tandem bikes and trikes with blind cyclists, taking rides of as much as 30 miles. He also helped to find equipment, maintain the bikes and trikes, and tirelessly promote the program to anybody else who would volunteer or donate to it.

We had a great 8 years of retirement. I wish we could have had more.

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