The P&S Journal: Spring 1998, Vol.18, No.2
Harold C. Neu, M.D.
Chief of the division of infectious diseases, Dr. Neu studied antimicrobial agents using pharmacological, biochemical, and in vitro methods and conducted clinical trials of new compounds. In 1981, he received international attention when he and Dr. Paul Ellner, professor emeritus of microbiology at Columbia, developed the concept of the inhibitory quotient. The concept was widely received as a method to better correlate antimicrobial activity and pharmacokinetics and today has become the international standard.
In recent years, Dr. Neu became concerned about the spread of drug-resistant bacteria due to the overuse of antibiotics and was active in informing physicians how antibiotics should best be used. In a 1992 issue of Science, he reviewed the mechanisms of resistance to most antibiotics, described the organisms in which antibiotic resistance is a problem, and described the potential for crises in the future. He also participated in the production of video programs to demonstrate mechanisms of bacterial resistance and the best use of antibiotics. One program, the National Antibiotic Therapy Test, was shown nationwide and alerted medical educators to the need for improved education in medical microbiology and the use of antimicrobial agents.
During more than 30 years at Columbia-Presbyterian, Dr. Neu wrote in November 1993, “our division has studied virtually every class of antimicrobial agent available throughout the world. In many cases we have been the first to study the human pharmacology of the drug and to perform the initial clinical trials which have been published in the American and European literature. There will always be a need for new antibiotics since bacteria have the remarkable ability to overcome each new agent that is synthesized or found in nature.”
Dr. Neu earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins. At graduation he received the Borden Research Award for most meritorious research as a medical student. He joined Columbia-Presbyterian as an intern in 1960 and became chief medical resident in 1964 after two years as a research associate in an NIH lab.
He became full professor of medicine and of pharmacology in 1975. He also was an attending physician at Presbyterian Hospital and hospital epidemiologist.
He received many honors, including the Hoechst-Roussel Award from the American Society of Microbiology for outstanding research in antimicrobial chemotherapy, the Distinguished Investigator Award from the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, and the Poster Award from the 17th International Congress of Chemotherapy. Dr. Neu was honored twice with the Teacher of the Year Award by P&S classes (1991 and 1993). He received the Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1993.
The Columbia Trustees honored Dr. Neu in 1994 by establishing the Harold C. Neu Professorship in Infectious Diseases. He is survived by his wife, Carmen Ortiz-Neu’63, two daughters (including Natalie Neu’91), a son, and a granddaughter.
Konrad C. Hsu, Ph.D.
He joined the Department of Microbiology at P&S in 1954 as research scientist in the lab of Dr. Beatrice Seegal. He became professor of microbiology in 1969.
He was the first visiting scientist to the People’s Republic of China when it opened up in the 1970s, and he arranged for many P&S faculty to visit China.