You are here:

In memoriam: Prof John F Murray, M.D

Published on


The Union is saddened to announce that Prof John F Murray passed away yesterday, Tuesday 24 March, in Paris of acute respiratory failure associated with COVID-19.

The Union is saddened to announce that Professor John F Murray, former Secretary-General/Chairman of The Union’s Executive Committee and Council and former Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD), passed away yesterday, Tuesday 24 March, in Paris of acute respiratory failure associated with COVID-19.

In both aforementioned roles, Dr Murray introduced major reforms and innovations, including broadening The Union's focus from tuberculosis (TB) to include other lung health issues. For nearly 40 years he helped disseminate the latest research on lung health through The Union’s journals, having served as associate editor to three publications: the Bulletin of the IUAT, Tubercle and Lung Disease, and the IJTLD. Amongst numerous distinctions he was awarded The Union’s highest honour, The Union Medal, in 2011.

For many years, Dr Murray was Chief of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division of the San Francisco General Hospital and a Professor at the University of California, San Francisco. His years of engagement with The Union spanned many decades and continued until very recently, with his work with the IJTLD. A well-known figure around The Union’s Paris headquarters, Dr Murray was an essential part of The Union’s past and present.

Prof Guy Marks, President of The Union, said: “John was a towering figure in lung health, having made enormous contributions to The Union stemming from his passion for both TB and lung disease. He was a kind and gentle man; a great mentor and guide to many people, admired and respected by all who knew him. His sudden death is extraordinarily sad and has had a big impact on us all.”

“John was a giant in the field of pulmonary medicine and one of the architects of the modern Union”, said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union. “It was he who changed the structure of our organisation to make it more open and inclusive, allowing for younger physicians to become members.” 

Dr Paula I Fujiwara, The Union’s Scientific Director, added: “John was my professor while I was a medical resident at the University of California, San Francisco. He leaves behind a remarkable list of honours, and his death comes as a big loss to our organisation and the wider TB and lung health community.”

Prof John F Murray was originally from Mineola, New York. His achievements extend beyond The Union and have lasting impact. To quote a few: Dr Murray’s lobbying resulted in the creation of the Division of Lung Disease (DLD) in the American National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; he was instrumental in the creation of the National Pulmonary Faculty Training Programme funded by the DLD; he was responsible for early efforts in the standardisation of pulmonary training programmes; and he played an important role in the evolution of the American Thoracic Society, where he also took on editorship of the society’s journal and was a former President. Dr Murray also undertook critical work in outlining the spectrum of lung disease in HIV infection.

Dr Murray authored hundreds of papers over the course of his distinguished and prolific career. As the author of one of the leading texts in respiratory medicine, Textbook of Respiratory Medicine (Murray and Nadel), which has influenced the practice of respiratory medicine throughout the world for generations, Dr Murray continued to update the text (now in its sixth edition) throughout his retirement. 

The Union, and the wider TB and lung health community, express their condolences to his wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other family, and friends. He will be greatly missed.

Dr Murray’s achievements were highlighted in Giants in Chest Medicine, in the CHEST journal, a series recognising the accomplishments of individuals who have contributed greatly to chest medicine.

Photo shows Prof John F Murray receiving The Union Medal from Prof S Bertel Squire, the then Union President at the Union World Conference on Lung Health, Lille, France in 2011. Photo credit: Jens Jeske / The Union