The Life and Career of Ernest Foulkes


By Mary Beth Genter-Mills posted 06-13-2019 08:15


To recognize his contributions to toxicology and the University of Cincinnati, I wanted to take a moment to honor Dr. Ernest Foulkes on the anniversary of his death.

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Ernest C. Foulkes, PhD, was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1924, later emigrating to Australia with his family as a refugee. A lifelong academic, Dr. Foulkes received his bachelor of science and master of science, both in biochemistry, from the University of Sydney in Australia in 1946 and 1947, respectively. He then served as an investigator for the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, a position he held from 1946 to 1949. From 1949 to 1952, Dr. Foulkes was an Australian National University Scholar at the University of Oxford in England, where he earned his PhD in biochemistry in 1952.

That same year, Dr. Foulkes began a long and distinguished career at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, serving first as a senior research associate within the Department of Physiology, a position he held for 12 years. He concurrently served as an associate at the May Institute for Medical Research, also in Cincinnati, and as an established investigator for the American Heart Association.

Dr. Foulkes’s research centered on renal toxicology and the metabolism of metals. In 1964, Dr. Foulkes began instructing in the Departments of Physiology and Environmental Health of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, serving as an assistant and associate professor. During this time, he also became head of the Department of Environmental Health Division of Biological Sciences, a position he held for nearly two decades (1965–1984). Over the next 30 years, Dr. Foulkes would serve many roles in the Department of Environmental Health, as a professor, associate director for research, deputy directory, and director of graduate studies. Dr. Foulkes twice acted as acting/interim director of the Department of Environmental Health, first from 1968 to 1969 and again from 1994 to 1996. He also taught in the Department of Physiology, was the presidential advisor for science and research from 1972 to 1974, and directed the Toxicology Training Program from 1985 to 1987.

After more than four decades, Dr. Foulkes retired from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 as an emeritus professor but remained active in the University of Cincinnati academic community.

During his career, Dr. Foulkes held many professional memberships, including with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Biochemical Society of Great Britain. Also a member of SOT, Dr. Foulkes was one of the founding members of the Metals Specialty Section (MSS), and he served as President of the MSS in 1988.

Dr. Foulkes and his wife, Valerie Hopton, had four children—David, Gabrielle, Brian, and Hilary—and Dr. Foulkes was a grandfather and great grandfather. He also enjoyed outdoor activities, such as canoeing and spelunking. Dr. Foulkes passed away on June 15, 2018. His obituary is available online.

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