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The Joseph S. and Esther Handler Professorship of Laboratory Research in Nephrology

More than 30 years after JOSEPH S. HANDLER, MD, began making land-mark discoveries about how the kidney works—and devised methods for analyzing the function of epithelial cells that line its filtration tubes, the trachea, ureter, esophagus and rectum—his findings and procedures remain the foundations for current kidney research. Dr. Handler headed the Division of Nephrology in the Department of Medicine at Hopkins from 1988 to his retirement in 2003. He was with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Laboratory of Kidney and Electrolyte Metabolism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1960 to 1988. Handler’s significant contributions in renal physiology included uncovering key aspects of the urinary concentrating mechanism, which enables humans to maintain a near-constant fluid balance when water intake and urinary volume vary. He was also the first to demonstrate that the cyclical nucleotide adenosine monophosphate impacts the effect of vasopressin, a hormone that influences the resorption of water by the kidney tubules, resulting in concentration of urine.

Dr. Handler received the National Kidney Foundation’s 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2001 Robert W. Berliner Award for Excellence from the American Physiological Society and the Homer W. Smith Award from the American Society of Nephrology in 1987. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania for both undergraduate and medical school, Handler established the Louis and Nettye Handler Scholarship at Penn Medicine in his parents’ honor.

Dr. Handler married Esther Minkoff, a doctoral scholar of Indology at the University of Pennsylvania, in 1955 and they were together until her death in 2001. To recognize the excellent nursing care she received at Hopkins, Handler established the Dr. Esther Handler Oncology Nursing Scholarship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

An avid tennis player and a collector of Asian art and the work of the French painter George Roualt, Handler took up the cello as a novice at age 74, mastered music theory and practiced almost daily for the joy of it. He relished his role as father and grandfather in his new family until his death in December 2015.

JOAN GLADE DE PONTET and Joseph Handler, both widowed, met in 2002 and subsequently married. Joan was the Assistant Executive Director of the Jewish Social Service Agency of Metropolitan Washington (JSSA) from 1983 to 1994 and the Executive Director from 1994 to 2008 when she retired. In 2009, Joan was named to the Hunter College (CUNY) Alumni Hall of Fame, and in 2010 received the Joseph Ottenstein Award for outstanding leadership in human services. In 2014, she established the Belle and George Strell Postgraduate Fellowship Program in Executive Leadership at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.

Joan is deeply gratified to have Joe’s legacy of basic research in renal physiology embodied in this named chair and significant research fund. The entire family takes great pride in his commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and his unfailing generosity in supporting and advancing the work of others and the field of nephrology.