University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Carlson honored by School of Medicine and Health Sciences

A retirement celebration to honor Edward C. Carlson was held on Monday, Sept. 20, at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). Carlson, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor and the Karl and Carolyn Kaess Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, was recognized for completing 40 consecutive years in medical teaching, including nearly 30 as chair of Anatomy and Cell Biology.

President Robert O. Kelley, who holds a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology, related how years ago he read about Carlson’s research in cell biology at the University of Arizona, which drew Kelley to initiate correspondence with Carlson that developed into a lasting friendship. Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor Emeritus Robert C. Nordlie lauded Carlson as a teacher and as a colleague. Vice President for Health Affairs and SMHS Dean Joshua Wynne noted that “Ed continues to be as productive a researcher today as when he started at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.”

In honor of Carlson’s work, the imaging center at the School Of Medicine and Health Sciences was named the Edward C. Carlson Imaging and Image Analysis Core Facility. Interim Chair of Anatomy and Cell Biology Jonathan D. Geiger, a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics; and Kenneth G. Ruit, associate professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, presented the honor to Carlson.

The Carlson Imaging Facility consists of a light microscopy core and an electron microscopy core, which provide advanced instrumentation for researchers interested in investigating biological processes at the cellular, subcellular, and molecular level.

Carlson earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn. He came to UND as a Ph.D. student in 1966, where he received his Ph.D. in anatomy in 1970. After graduating from UND, he taught for seven years at the University of Arizona and four years at the University of California–Davis. Carlson returned to UND when the once in a lifetime opportunity opened to chair the department from which he obtained his Ph.D.

In 1984, Carlson initiated an Anatomy Interchange, a “biosocialization event,” between his department at UND and the University of Manitoba Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science. After a morning of science, participants were free to explore the host university and city and then finish the day with a barbecue at a faculty member’s home. Carlson’s goal was to not only encourage scientific research but also, more importantly, encourage international colleagues to “get to know one another.” The two departments have been meeting nearly every fall since.

Carlson’s “retirement” is a phased retirement; it will take place over the next five years. He will have full use of his laboratory, a technician, and students to help him continue his research on protecting blood vessels from damage caused by diabetes.

“Our student are so bright and have an amazing work ethic—they keep me feeling young and constantly thinking and discovering new things about science,” said Carlson.

-- Denis MacLeod, assistant director, Office of Alumni and Community Relations, UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 777-2733,

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