Duke Flags Lowered: Anesthesiology Professor Joannes Karis Dies at Age 88

Dr. Joannes H. Karis, a distinguished emeritus faculty member of the Department of Anesthesiology, died Friday.  He was 88.

In a letter to department colleagues, department chair Dr. Joseph Mathew said Karis “will be remembered as a remarkable leader, scientist, pioneer, and philanthropist who was instrumental in the growth and development of both the cardiac and pediatric anesthesia divisions at Duke.”

 In 1975, Karis’ mentor, Dr. Merel H. Harmel, the founding chairman of Duke Anesthesiology, recruited him to Duke where he spent the final 18 years of his career as a cardiac anesthesiologist. Through his groundbreaking research, Karis helped to uncover the dangers of ultraviolet radiation in the operating room and to identify the physiologic mechanisms of neuromuscular blockade agents.

He served as the director of one of the world’s first surgical intensive care units and was a key player in refining early physiological monitoring and anesthesia delivery systems that have evolved to become essential components of the modern operating room.

Karis’ legacy of innovation, academia and humanity will continue to surround us here at Duke, Mathew said. The legacy includes the Joannes H. Karis Endowed Professorship, made possible through the donations of the Karis family. The distinguished professorship was awarded to Dr. William Maixner this past week.

Memorial services will be announced later.

More about Joannes Karis can be found here.