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Benjamin Vaughan Branscomb

Benjamin Vaughan Branscomb

From Bhamwiki


Ben Vaughn Branscomb (born c. 1924 in Durham, North Carolina) is a pioneering pulmonologist and distinguished professor emeritus at UAB.

Branscomb is the son of Birmingham College alumnus Harvie Branscomb, then dean of the Duke University School of Divinity and later Chancellor of Vanderbilt University. He attended the Asheville School and Duke and, due to the need for medical practitioners in World War II, was admitted to medical school there at age 17. After graduating he served briefly on a destroyer during the war. Later, during his internship at the University of Chicago, Branscomb contracted tuberculosis from a patient. He was admitted to the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium at Saranac Lake, New York (where novelist Walker Percy was also taking the cure).

While there he decided on his specialty and used a full-time job in the sanitarium's research laboratory to begin his training as a pulmonary physiologist. In 1950 he went to Vanderbilt on a Hughes Foundation fellowship, but was recalled to military duty in the Korean War before he completed his residency there. He convinced military officials to post him as a researcher for the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, where he pioneered the study of pulmonary function at the National Heart Institute (now the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute)

Once discharged, he was recruited to the Medical College of Alabama by Tinsley Harrison. He joined the faculty of what became UAB in 1955 and taught second year physical diagnosis throughout his tenure. Soon after his arrival, Branscomb began setting up pulmonary laboratories at area hospitals equipped to administer the "flow-volume loop" test for breathing capacity that he developed. He became a pioneer of research into emphysema and personally tested 200 members of the 88th United States Congress in July 1963 using a mobile diagnostic unit of his own design. The stunt resulted in increased awareness of the need for research into lung diseases. His own research established quantitative links between lung disease and smoking and air pollution.

Branscomb was one of the first UAB researchers to be appointed to an endowed chair, assuming the Alabama Professorship of Medicine in Emphysema and Respiratory Diseases (now the Ben Vaughan Branscomb Chair of Medicine in Respiratory Disease). He was the first director of the UAB Division of Pulmonary Diseases until 1970 and clinical director of the Spain Rehabilitation Center until 1977, and medical director of the Spain Respiratory Care Unit until 1989, when he retired from clinical practice. He continued teaching until 2006.

Branscomb provided critical support to the Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Air Pollution (GASP) and was the only medical specialist appointed to the Alabama Air Pollution Control Commission in 1971. He was married to artist Jane Branscomb for 62 years before her death in 2010.


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Branscomb demonstrates the use of a tire pump as a breathing aid in 1972




Chest Diseases: Wind on the Hill

Contributed by Penny Leggett


Time Magazine - Friday, Aug. 02, 1963
Emphysema is a Greek word for inflation, but it got attention on Capitol Hill last week for physical rather than fiscal reasons. As now used in medicine, it describes a disabling disease in which the lungs fail to empty properly and remain uselessly overinflated. The result is a condition long familiar in horses, and known as "heaves" or "broken wind."

Alabama's Representative Kenneth A. Roberts drew a quick laugh when he told the House: "There will, no doubt, be some who say that a Congressman couldn't possibly have emphysema since he's so long-winded anyway." Then he added: "Seriously, Mr. Speaker, I invite you and my colleagues to visit the emphysema mobile unit."

Breathe Deeply. The emphysema (pronounced em-fih-see-muh) mobile unit consisted of a truck parked outside the House with an Army tent set up beside it. Mr. Speaker-Massachusetts' John McCormack-was first in line when the unit opened. Within the week, more than 300 Senators and Representatives followed him.

Each of the legislators was instructed to inhale deeply, then to exhale as hard as he could through a tube attached to the bellows of a spirometer. The motion of the bellows made an electronic dot on the screen of a nearby oscilloscope. A persistent lung disorder usually shows up as a droop in the loop made by the dot as it moves downward across the screen during exhalation. Besides the blow-out test, each Congressman had a chest X ray and filled out a short questionnaire: "Are you ever troubled by shortness of breath? Do you have more than two colds a year?"

Blow Hot. At Birmingham's Alabama Medical Center, where the mobile unit was devised by Lung Specialist Dr. Ben Branscomb, 10,000 volunteers have already taken the emphysema test, and thousands more will do so before the center's five-year research project is finished. One major question to be answered: How prevalent is emphysema? Once it was considered uncommon.

Now, Dr. Branscomb reports, 10% to 15% of men over 40 have emphysema.

Early test results at week's end showed that 10% to 15% of the Congressmen had some breathing impairment. It would take time to find out how many of them had hitherto unsuspected emphysema. In any case, officials of the Alabama Tuberculosis Association and its affiliates felt sure that as a result of the demonstration, Congressmen would be more likely to blow hot than cold on appropriations for lung-disease research.




UAB Department of Medicine
Division Spotlight - Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine


Contributed by Penny Leggett

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Briggs - Branscomb

May 5, 2010 By tetherid
Celebrating a storied tradition of clinical care, education and research

The UAB Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine was founded in 1955 by Ben Vaughan Branscomb who served as its Director until 1970. Dick Dowling Briggs, Jr. (Division Director, 1971 - 1992) succeeded Dr. Branscomb and continued to build on the strong foundation set by him to develop the Division into one of the premier programs in the country.

To celebrate the legacy and contributions of Drs. Branscomb and Briggs, the Division established the inaugural Branscomb-Briggs lectureship on March 5, 2010 at UAB. The first lecturer was Dr. Stephen Rennard, Larson Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Section at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Rennard's lecture on "COPD in the Emerging Era of Personalized Medicine" was well received by all, including the honorees who are also his close friends. The evening celebration shifted to the Harbert Center where Drs. Branscomb and Briggs were "toasted and roasted" by former fellows, colleagues, and friends. The event was attended by over 100 guests from Birmingham and surrounding communities, many who were trainees under these former Division Directors.




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Lifetime Achievement in Health Care

BRANSCOMB BLAZED A TRAIL IN PULMONARY CARE


Contributed by Penny Leggett

Friday, October 13, 2006
In a medical career spanning 60 years, Dr. Ben V. Branscomb witnessed the advent of antibiotics for treatment of tuberculosis, the diagnosis of emphysema as a separate disease and the recognition of pulmonary medicine as its own subspecialty.

He has also influenced public policy on public health issues, counseled politicians on clean air standards, imparted wisdom and experience to thousands of aspiring physicians and even helped a future Hollywood actress win the Miss Alabama title with a presentation on the dangers of air pollution.

A tuberculosis survivor, he injected himself into the pioneering research of the preantibiotic days to learn - while receiving treatment himself - the mechanisms behind breathing health that ultimately shaped his career and the future of pulmonary medicine.

And while it would be simple for Branscomb to pine away for the "good old days" of medicine when diagnosing patients lay solely on the shoulders of physicians and their powers of observation, the distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has purposefully maintained his status as an educator and lecturer to help keep technological advances in his field in the forefront of research as invaluable tools to improve the specialty.

But contact, he said, remains a physician's primary resource to further medicine.

"You have to start with a broad background and remain informed of new directions science and medicine take, but you also have to work in an environment where you rub shoulders every day with the best and brightest in their fields," he said. "It's a matter of maintaining a lively and creative environment full of good, smart people who live and love the practice of medicine every day."

And while technological advances have revolutionized diagnostic capabilities, the human element must never be ignored.

"Diseases occur in people, and it's the people you treat. Technology is just a tool at a doctor's disposal like a writer's typewriter," he said.

Branscomb, who contracted tuberculosis during his internship at the University of Chicago, understands that human element.

The ordeal led him to Trudeau Sanitorium, one of only three pulmonary function laboratories in the country at that time, where he took a job as a pulmonary physiologist "learning how breathing works."

Branscomb left Trudeau in 1950, and spent three years at Vanderbilt University, where he served as chief resident before Uncle Sam nudged his career directly toward his calling.

"I had been in uniform in World War II, but the government called while I was at Vanderbilt and said, 'Guess what, you didn't pull enough active duty.'"

Desperate to remain immersed in research, Branscomb parlayed his military tour into a two-year stint with the recently formed National Institutes of Health's U.S. Public Health Service, becoming the first pulmonary specialist at the National Heart Institute. His work - coupled with his future lobby of Congress - led to increased research funding for pulmonary diseases and the transformation of the National Heart Institute into the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

In the interim, Branscomb accepted a professorship at UAB - then known as the Medical College of Alabama - in 1955, setting up the first pulmonary laboratories at the university, Birmingham's Veterans Affairs Hospital and several locations nationwide.

It was his work in the area of emphysema, though, that gained him national recognition and an invitation by Congress to test more than 200 congressmen and senators for the then unrecognized condition.

"Working on emphysema research was very much like what you're seeing today in the area of bird flu research. People had never heard of it, and it was wide open," he said.

In turn, UAB appointed Branscomb to one of the institution's first endowed chairs, the Alabama Professor of Medicine in Emphysema and Respiratory Diseases. He has since held positions as director of the division of pulmonary diseases; clinical director of the Spain Rehabilitation Center; and medical director of the Spain Respiratory Care Association of Respiratory Therapists.

Branscomb is amused that the account of his interaction with eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes still circulates today.

The story began when Branscomb returned his Howard Hughes Fellowship money when he was forced to leave Vanderbilt to return to the military. Years later while in Birmingham, the specialist needed to transport a patient to California, but needed a plane, so he called Hughes' aviation company.

Branscomb said Hughes himself, called him back, asked if he was the one who returned the fellowship money, and when the doctor said yes, Hughes sent a plane.

The patient in question was Janet Gentle, and the transport was being arranged to relocate her to her sister's care in California.

The sister, Lilly Gentle, had once asked Branscomb to counsel her on an appropriate medical issue to discuss during her competition in the Miss Alabama pageant.

Branscomb educated the contestant accordingly. When she concluded her presentation to the judges, Miss Gentle ran a white-gloved finger over a window sill left open drawing back a soot-covered finger and asked the panel if they wanted to breathe that?

"She won," Branscomb said.

Kelli M. Dugan




Correction - Vanderbilt Medicine

Contributed by Penny Leggett


Editor's note:
In the last edition of Vanderbilt Medicine, we mistakenly put an honor for Ben V. Branscomb, M.D., MD'47, HS'48, in the "in memoriam" section of the magazine. Branscomb, of Birmingham, Ala., is a nationally renowned researcher and pioneer in pulmonary medicine whose career has spanned six decades. In 2006 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Birmingham Business Journal's Health Care Heroes program.

Dr. Branscomb kindly pointed out the unfortunate placement of the news of his award, and sent this note.


July 23, 2007
Dear Madams/Sirs,
At 6 a.m. today, after I got out of the hot tub in our greenhouse, I repaired to my workshop where I reconstructed an easel for my wife Jane's studio. While eating a BLT sandwich, I cooked up a salsa verde using ingredients from our garden. Our cardiologist daughter Betsy (BA '74) and her husband, Dr. George Joe (BA '73) then challenged me to draw the brachial plexus. At 5 p.m. we will attend an opening at the Birmingham Museum of Art. At 6 we will have dinner at the Mountain Brook Club with friends including two distinguished Vanderbilt medical alumni, Dr. Wood Herren and Dr. Robert Yoe. The most difficult decision I have confronted all day has been whether to cut that BLT on the square or diagonally from corner to corner.

My copy of the excellent Vanderbilt Medicine arrived today. Based on the above I would submit that the report of my demise on page 58 was erroneous.

Sincerely,
Ben Branscomb, M.D.




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ANNUAL BRANSCOMB-BRIGGS LECTURESHIP AND CELEBRATION

Contributed by Penny Leggett

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In honor of Dr. Branscomb and Dr. Briggs' legacy, the UAB Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine will establish the Branscomb-Briggs Endowed Pulmonary Medicine Education Fund. This fund will allow the Division to endow the Branscomb-Briggs lectureship so that it can be continued for years to come. We plan to combine this lectureship with a CME course, "Update in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine". We hope these events will serve in bringing many of our friends and colleagues back to UAB at least once each year.




Jane Moreland Branscomb Art

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Self Portrait at Age Two


Jane Branscomb has been a longstanding member of the Village Painters and participant in the Birmingham arts community. As a youth, she took WPA classes in Nashville and Richmond and later studied with muralist and pastel painter, Bell Worsham. She subsequently took courses at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Colorado. In Village Painters, her studies have continued with Raymond McMahon of Birmingham-Southern College and Al Sella of the University of Alabama.

After majoring in art history at Randolph-Macon Women's College, Jane did art education work at the Valentine Museum of Richmond and later at the Birmingham Museum of Art. She is a past officer of the Water Color Society of Alabama and the Birmingham Art Association.

Among her volunteer activities have been "quick sketch" pastels of children which led to commissions of larger work. These impressionist pastel portraits and expressionist acrylic and mixed media landscapes can be found in various private and public collections in Virginia and locally.




Jane Moreland Branscomb Obituary

Contributed by Penny Leggett


BRANSCOMB, JANE MORELAND, loved stories of others and had plenty of her own. The daughter of educational missionaries, she lived in Brazil until age 12 and then in Virginia where her father was president of Randolph-Macon Men's College. At Randolph-Macon Women's College (Randolph College), Jane studied art and drew portraits of fellow students for spending money. She later became an involved alumna.

Jane was devoted to her husband of 62 years, Dr. Ben Branscomb, and their four daughters. The couple moved to Birmingham in 1955, when Dr. Branscomb was recruited to the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and where he then established the Pulmonary Division. Jane has worked tirelessly to support medical education and medical faculty recruitment and has been a longstanding volunteer for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Museum of Art. Quiet in her faith, Jane loved the Methodist Church, and she was an early supporter of the civil rights movement. She was keenly interested in her friends' lives and sometimes knew their family histories better than they.

Jane enjoyed entertaining, painting, reading, and learning until the day she died. A voracious reader, she participated in literary groups including the 19th Century Club and the Married Ladies Reading Club. Jane looked for beauty everywhere, in nature and in others and reflected it through her life. She painted with the Village Painters for over 40 years. Her paintings hang in many homes and include portraits of several generations. Current works were on exhibit when she died. When a painting was stolen, she enjoyed this as "the height of flattery." (If you are reading this, please return it!).

Examples of works are at thevillagepainters.com. Jane is survived by Dr. Ben Branscomb; daughter Dr. Louisa Branscomb and her daughter Olivia; daughter Melinda Branscomb; daughter Dr. Betsy Branscomb and husband Dr. George Joe and sons Henry and Winston Joe; daughter Janie Branscomb and husband Sam Collier and sons Christopher and Larson Collier; and sisters Fran Johns and Helen Cotton.

A service will be held March 4 at 5:00 p.m. at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church. Memories can be shared at respectance.com/jane branscomb and are appreciated. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Jane Branscomb Fund at the Birmingham Museum of Art or to the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

Published in The Birmingham News on February 28, 2010


February 28, 2010
Jane was one of the very special members of The Village Painters!! Her helpful comments and enthusiasm were the heart of our group. Every event that Jane participated in was made even more delightful by her energy, humor and thoughtfulness. Again, her insightful remarks that I enjoyed hearing and discussing with her in the 19th Century Book Club were always thought provoking. I have enjoyed

Jane's friendship for over 40 years. What a vacuum she has left-- not to be filled!
Jean Miller, Birmingham, Alabama


February 28, 2010
What an unfailingly warm, thoughtful, and delightful friend Jane was to my late grandmother (Eugenia Dabney) and mother (Cissy Hofammann), and to me. I will miss her ever-charming presence in my life. My deepest sympathy to Dr. Ben, children, and grandchildren all. Their Jane was one in a million.
Skippy Mullins, Birmingham, Alabama


March 01, 2010
My father, Alston Branscomb of Sheffield, Alabama, and my siblings: Penny Leggett, Lewis & David Branscomb, join me in saying that our heartfelt sympathies are with you in the passing of a very special wife, mother, and cousin. May God bless each of you with His peace and strength. May your wonderful memories of joyful times together bring you comfort. Our prayers and thoughts are with each of you.
Eugenia Branscomb Hobday




Dunlap Honors Mentors with Gift to Pulmonary Division

Contributed by Penny Leggett

Source: The Campaign for UAB Newsletter, Fall 2015

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Nancy Dunlap says the roots of her success as a pulmonologist, scientist, healthcare administrator, and policy advisor can be directly traced back to the guidance, inspiration, and support she received from faculty mentors during her postgraduate medical education at UAB.

In acknowledgement of the contributions of four faculty members whose dedication and mentoring roles helped shape her career, Dunlap and her husband, John D. Johns, established the Pulmonary Faculty Development Endowment in the UAB Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine. The gift is made in honor of her most influential mentors: Benjamin V. Branscomb, M.D., founding director of the pulmonary division; J. Durwood Bradley, M.D., former Chief of Staff of UAB Hospital; William C. Bradley, M.D., founder of the UAB Lung Health Center; and Dick D. Briggs Jr., M.D., a pulmonary faculty member who also served as President and CEO of the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation.

“These mentors took the time and interest to teach and inspire the next generation of clinicians and scientists,” says Dunlap, who completed her internal medicine residency training and pulmonary fellowship at UAB, where she also earned a Ph.D. in microbiology. “My gift is a way to give back to UAB while honoring their commitment.”

Dunlap says her faculty mentors each contributed something unique that helped lay the foundation for a career marked with distinction. A former dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, she previously worked with the National Governors Association as Physician-in-Residence and on the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow, where she worked on the reauthorization of FDA legislation and issues related to Medicare, Medicaid, public health, and insurance.

Dunlap also served for 10 years as the medical director for the Alabama Department of Public Health Tuberculosis Program. She previously held positions as chief of staff, vice president for Ambulatory Services, and chief operating officer of The Kirklin Clinic at UAB. Dunlap continues her work in health policy with the National Governors Association and the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Dunlap says discussions with medical faculty throughout her career served as a guidepost as she considered making a gift. “They often expressed a feeling of being ‘stuck’ once their clinical training had ended,” she said. “While patient care was rewarding, they had a desire for opportunities to continue growing and developing as clinicians, researchers, and scientists.”

The Pulmonary Faculty Development Endowment gives faculty members an opportunity for career enrichment, which might include sponsoring speakers and educational symposia as well as assisting with the cost to obtain advanced degrees or other continuing education.

“Patient care is demanding, and providing faculty with an outlet for continued learning and career development helps to increase their fulfillment and overall job satisfaction,” Dunlap says, “helping us to retain the best and brightest at UAB.”




More on mortality: living strong, dying well

Written by Fran Moreland Johns


Contributed by Penny Leggett

Source: Fran Moreland Johns website

(Touching story about Jesse Earl Moreland, father of Jane and Fran)

It’s hard to think about the death of my sister Jane (below) without thinking of another death we faced together.

Our father, in his 90th year on the planet and his 20th year of widowhood, started putting the pressure on Jane and me to come to see him one Thanksgiving. As we were in different states and had families and other things needing attention, getting to Virginia required some doing. Our dad had two daughters in between Jane and me, but she was the executor of his estate and I was the one who brought comfort because I closely resemble my mother. We four daughters usually visited at different times in order to stretch out the audiences for his story-telling and generally keep an eye on him. This time he was adamant. He wanted the two of us there together.

In mid-January we got it worked out. Jane and I met in Atlanta, having to spend the night there because the Richmond airport was snowed in. We managed to get on the first plane to land in Richmond the next morning. After picking up a rental car for the drive to Dad’s home in Ashland we took him to lunch at the only place open in town. He was impatient to get back home. Once there he did his traditional monologue about his 12 flawless grandchildren, a reassurance, of sorts, of his posterity. Then he shuffled off to his room for a nap.

And that’s where we found him when he didn’t answer a call to dinner. Keeled over, on his knees at the head of his bed, where he had said his prayers for 90 years. Having departed this realm in the midst of a conversation with God, all arrangements complete. He and God had long maintained a strong, conversational relationship.

Not all of us can engineer our departures so efficiently — you had to know my father. Or so gently as Jane’s closing days with her family around, singing hymns. But there are millions of such stories (some of which are in the book, Dying Unafraid, that was motivated by the first story above, if you’ll pardon a little blatant self-promotion here; it’s still in print.) The great majority of those stories happen not because the central character had an unshakable faith in some deity or other (although that does tend to help matters) or because he or she had mystical powers or superhuman strength and determination, but because the central character accepted his or her mortality. We’re born, we live, we die. The facing of, and preparation for, its eventual end often makes dying better and always makes life richer.

That’s the lesson of these two stories. Dying unafraid tends to happen to people who live unafraid. And who talk to their families and friends, and complete their advance directives, and make it clear what their choices are. This is equally true for the young and the old, the fit and the infirm.

What are you waiting for?




Ben Branscomb Obituary

Contributed by Eugenia Hobday


The Birmingham News
July 13, 2016


Feb 1, 1924 - July 4, 2016
After a lifetime of tireless devotion to the things he loved, especially his patients and the field of pulmonary medicine that he decisively helped to establish, Dr. Ben Vaughan Branscomb passed away at his home on the Fourth of July, 2016, at the age of 92. Recruited to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 1955 as a professor of Internal Medicine, he and his beloved late wife, Jane, broadly impacted our city. Ben was founder and longtime Chair of the UAB Pulmonary Division, retiring as Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 2006.

Raised in North Carolina, Dr. Branscomb had deep Birmingham roots. His grandfather, L.C. Branscomb, was a horseback preacher in the late 1800s and minister at Birmingham's First Methodist Church. His aunt, Dr. Louise Branscomb, an outspoken activist for racial, gender, and economic equality, was a physician here from the 1930s. His father, Harvie Branscomb, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University, grew up in Bessemer and graduated from Birmingham-Southern College.

Dr. Branscomb's life was shaped by World War II. When he was 16 and in high school, there was a shortage of doctors at the front. He was told to finish high school and college and gain admission to Duke medical school before his 18th birthday, which he did, finishing medical school in his early 20s. The War ended during his first Navy deployment. He did residency at Vanderbilt and the University of Chicago and was Chief Resident in Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt. Ben Branscomb's career reflects the history of pulmonary medicine itself. In 1948, he became extremely ill with TB. He spent his first years of marriage hospitalized at Trudeau TB Sanatorium in Saranac Lake, NY. As he convalesced, he used the primitive lab facilities there to study the lung. Dr. Branscomb was re-drafted for the Korean War, and wanting to continue his research, sought employment at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland, where he was the first pulmonary physician. His research illuminated fundamental aspects of breathing, resulting in his being the first to publish the "Flow Volume Loop." Believing science should be for the benefit of all humanity, however, he never sought any patents. With the Flow Volume Loop and 6 decades of other discoveries, publications, and teaching, Dr. Branscomb is widely considered to be a founder of modern pulmonary medicine. Dr. Branscomb was still in his mid-20s when he was brought to UAB by Dr. Tinsley Harrison. He approached medicine with characteristic ingenuity. In 1963, he tested over 200 US Congressmembers on the Capitol steps with his "Loop Machine." Resulting publicity introduced the terms emphysema and COPD to American households, and did much to raise awareness about cigarette harm among the public, challenging tobacco companies' ads. This was not without push-back. One national newspaper cartoon depicts igated and was the only physician on the state's Air Pollution Control Board. His midnight go-ahead from Judge Poyner to close factories for non-compliance established governmental enforcement of the Clean Air Act in Alabama, which was not previously mandated at the state level. He was a founding member of the Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution (GASP), an important activist group.

Dr. Branscomb and his late wife, Jane, recruited scores of outstanding early medical faculty to UAB, doing much to establish UAB's national standing. He had boundless energy; teaching a medical student at 2:00 a.m. by a sick person's bed brought him more joy than his global lecturing. He has over 65 publications along with editorial work on Harrison's Textbook and numerous journals. He was loved by nursing staff because they knew he cared about the patients. He was known for the clarity of his teaching; his lectures were packed with doctors at all levels who knew they would learn from him, no matter what they already knew. His creative methods included kicking off classes by playing the harmonica and drawing lines on guest weight-lifters to demonstrate anatomy. He regaled medical students, patients, and hospital staff with entertaining stories. His stories reflected observations from a lifetime of exploring the world around him and seeing humor in the smallest things. He loved literature; in fact, there was almost nothing he was not interested in knowing about, from the ancient Greeks to the workings of a microwave or the internet. He played piano and harmonica, and at age 86 performed on his daughter Louisa's noted 2011 record album.

Ben Branscomb's personal life centered on his wife of 62 years, Jane, an accomplished artist and civic leader, his four daughters, his extended family, and the growth of Birmingham. The Branscombs worked tirelessly to develop the Alabama Symphony and the Museum of Art. Dr. Branscomb also had an extensive knowledge of and reverence for nature. Before "sustainable" and "organic farming" were household terms, he and Jane raised their family with reliance on their garden and the abundant fish and game found in the south Alabama lakes and woods. The members of Duffy's Bend Hunting Club he considered his best friends for generations. He was a fervent outdoorsman with a deep-seated love for the spiritual value of nature, often simply sitting in the woods for hours, quietly and in peace. To Dr. Branscomb, challenge meant adventure. He was guided by imagination, selflessness, and enthusiasm until the day he died. Perhaps more than anything, he loved the process of thinking itself - inventing solutions to small and large problems, from the home to the laboratory. He delighted in such challenges even in his last days.

Dr. Branscomb was predeceased by his wife, Jane Moreland Branscomb, and his brother, Harvie Branscomb, Jr. JD(Mary Jo). He is survived by his brother, Lewis Branscomb, PhD (Connie); daughters Louisa Branscomb, PhD; Melinda Branscomb, JD; Betsy Branscomb, MD (George Joe, MD); Jane Branscomb, MPH (Sam Collier, JD); grandchildren Olivia Branscomb-Burgess, Henry and Winston Joe, Christopher and Larson Collier; and thirteen nieces and nephews. A celebration of Dr. Branscomb's life will be held at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church in Birmingham at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 16, followed by visitation at the church. Memorial contributions may be made to the Black Warrior Riverkeeper, 712 37th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35222. The family will cherish your memories of Jane and Ben shared on Dr. Branscomb's Legacy.com page.

 


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