In 1976, Dr. Russell Luepker joined the University of Minnesota and became part of the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene, which later part of the Division of Epidemiology. He became associate director of the Division in 1986 and served as Division head from 1991 to 2004. He became director of Graduate Studies for the Division in 2004 and continues to serve on the faculty in the School of Public Health.
Dr. Russell Luepker begins his interview by reflecting on his early life and education. He then describes his medical education and the travel and training programs in which he participated at the University of Rochester, specifically his time in Nigeria and Sweden. He also discusses his time in the U.S. Public Health Service in Baltimore, MD, his internship in San Diego, CA, and his recruitment to the University of Minnesota. Dr. Luepker reviews his experience applying for and executing the Minnesota Heart Health Program grant; the culture at the University in comparison to other institutions where he’d studied and worked; and Ancel Keys work in the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene and the merging of the Laboratory with the Division of Epidemiology. He then gives his perspective on retrenchments as a result of his time as chairman of the University Senate Finance and Planning Committee and the impact of the Rajender Consent Decree. Dr. Luepker also describes the following: his research programs; interventional and observational epidemiology in the School; public health as an activist profession; collaborations with the Medical School; the influence of the Academic Health Center on collaboration; his views on leadership in the AHC; the tenures of the deans of the School of Public Health; and his work with the regents. He concludes his interview by discussing the combining of the roles of Medical School dean and vice president of the AHC and collaboration within the AHC.
Russell Luepker was born October 1, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. He earned his bachelor’s in history at Grinnell College in 1964. He graduated from the University of Rochester Medical School in 1969. While at the University of Rochester, he was an NIH research fellow in cardiology at the University of Göteborg, Sweden. He completed his internship at the University of California at San Diego in 1970. To complete his military service, Dr. Luepker worked as assistant chief of cardiology at the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland while also pursuing research at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland from 1973 to 1974. He was appointed assistant resident and then director of the Lipid Clinic at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston while working toward his master’s in epidemiology at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, which he completed in 1976. In 1976, Dr. Luepker moved to the University of Minnesota as a professor in the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene, which became the Division of Epidemiology in 1983. He became associate director of the Division in 1986 and served as Division head from 1991 to 2004. He began serving as director of Graduate Studies for the Division in 2004. His research includes cardiovascular epidemiology, clinical trials, community disease prevention, and outcomes research. He continues to serve on the faculty in the School of Public Health.