A Special Gift from Doctor, Researcher, Husband and Volunteer


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The list of accomplishments earned by Bruce Warren '49 is more than impressive. It is phenomenal. Any one of his achievements would be enough for one person in a lifetime. He has a B.A. in Zoology from UMD, an M.S. and a Ph.D. And yet to hear him tell the story, these are perfectly reasonable events that follow a logical sequence. 

It was when Bruce did his first medical internship and surgery residency that things got exciting. Bruce, who married his high school sweetheart, A. Jane Berry, already had four children by that time, so he needed to support his growing family. An internship and general surgery residency in the Air Force offered him support as well as a challenge. 

Bruce had completed stints in China and the Pacific with the Marines in WWII. During his year of surgery training, one of his patients was one of the original seven Project Mercury astronauts and another was Hubertus Strughold, the so-called ""Father of Aerospace Medicine."Meeting these pioneers whetted Bruce's appetite for research in aerospace medicine. 

He requested a transfer and found himself chief of the USAF Aerospace Medicine Weightlessness Section. Bruce informed his superiors he didn't know anything about weightlessness and the answer was, ""Neither does anyone else"." 

His work with weightlessness led Bruce to become an aerospace research flight surgeon, earn board certification in aerospace medicine, and conduct research he called, ""More fun than work"." 

Before the first manned space launches, Bruce studied the physiological effects of weightlessness by flying zero gravity parabolic flight maneuvers in supersonic jet fighters. Conversely, he studied the effects of increased gravitational forces on the human body in his role as the first medical supervisor of the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine human centrifuge. 

When the U.S. entered the conflict in Vietnam, the focus of Bruce's research changed. He flew on combat aeromedical evacuation flights to study lifesaving equipment. 

One of his air missions involved very low level, slow flying aircraft. These flights subjected aircrews to severe ground fire with insufficient body armor. Bruce worked on a two-person team to design aircrew armor that would protect a pilot's upper torso, head, and neck. He field tested the first three prototypes in Vietnam and on his last mission, while wearing old armor, he was wounded in the face. The perfected armor was put into production and was credited with saving many lives. 

The next phase of Bruce's career found him attached to the American Embassy in Brussels, Belgium. He managed Air Force research grants, traveling to meet with notable scientists in Europe, the Middle East, and India. But these administrative duties weren't' enough of a challenge for Bruce. 

Back in the states, this time as commander of the USAF Epidemiology Laboratory in San Antonio, he became involved in the early studies of drug addiction in Vietnam veterans and the relatively high rate of attrition among new Air Force recruits. These studies, along with Bruce's interest in brain biochemistry and human behavior, led him to an unusual step. 

Even though he had attained the rank of full colonel, he returned to school to become a psychiatric medical doctor. He did his residency at the Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio. During this time, he developed a special interest in biofeedback and other stress reducing measures. Five years after starting his residency, he became chairman of the Psychiatry Department, where he stayed until his Air Force retirement. 

Following that retirement in 1980, he joined the faculty of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where he continued his career in research, teaching, and clinical practice. His focus was on stress management and post-traumatic stress disorders. He entered private practice for a short time and retired from that in 1994, but Bruce hasn't stopped making contributions to his community. He now serves on two non-profit boards, including one involving people with traumatic brain injuries. 

As Bruce looked back on his time in Duluth, he decided to create a scholarship for biology students as a memorial to his wife. Bruce established a gift annuity, in which he will receive a guaranteed payment for the rest of his life and then after his death the scholarship will be established. In addition, Bruce has decided to make an annual gift so the scholarship can be awarded during his lifetime and he can meet and hear from the students he is supporting. 

Bruce and Jane attended UMD together and were married after Bruce graduated. Jane finished her degree at the University of Minnesota graduating magna cum laude. ""Jane provided great support to me and our five children. I wasn't much help at home when I was a student, and I was frequently absent on military assignments," Bruce said. ""I couldn't have done it without her."" 

When the children were older and more independent, Jane returned to school and earned an M.S.W. degree. She became a social worker in the field of mental disabilities. She and Bruce were married nearly 56 years before her death from an autoimmune disorder. 

Bruce has chosen to sponsor biology scholarships in part because of Theron O. Odlaug, former head of the UMD Department of Biology. ""He was the best teacher I ever had and the first scientific researcher I ever worked with." Bruce said. ""He was a great inspiration to me, especially in my graduate work conducting parasitology research."" 

It is clear how strongly Bruce feels about science and UMD. With the establishment of this scholarship, it is also clear how much he wants to honor the memory of Jane, his wife and partner of 56 years.