William Francis ("Fran") Ganong was an outstanding scientist, educator, and writer. He was completely dedicated to the field of physiology and medical education in general. Chairman of the Department of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, for many years, he received numerous teaching awards and loved working with medical students.
Over the course of 40 years and some 22 editions, he was the sole author of the best selling Review of Medical Physiology, and a co-author of 5 editions of Pathophysiology of Disease: An Introduction to Clinical Medicine. He was one of the "deans" of the Lange group of authors who produced concise medical text and review books that to this day remain extraordinarily popular in print and now in digital formats. Dr. Ganong made a gigantic impact on the education of countless medical students and clinicians.
A general physiologist par excellence and a neuroendocrine physiologist by subspecialty, Fran developed and maintained a rare understanding of the entire field of physiology. This allowed him to write each new edition (every 2 years!) of the Review of Medical Physiology as a sole author, a feat remarked on and admired whenever the book came up for discussion among physiologists. He was an excellent writer and far ahead of his time with his objective of distilling a complex subject into a concise presentation. Like his good friend, Dr. Jack Lange, founder of the Lange series of books, Fran took great pride in the many different translations of the Review of Medical Physiology and was always delighted to receive a copy of the new edition in any language.
He was a model author, organized, dedicated, and enthusiastic. His book was his pride and joy and like other best-selling authors, he would work on the next edition seemingly every day, updating references, rewriting as needed, and always ready and on time when the next edition was due to the publisher. He did the same with his other book, Pathophysiology of Disease: An Introduction to Clinical Medicine, a book that he worked on meticulously in the years following his formal retirement and appointment as an emeritus professor at UCSF.
Fran Ganong will always have a seat at the head table of the greats of the art of medical science education and communication. He died on December 23, 2007. All of us who knew him and worked with him miss him greatly.