Alan Jobe: An Extraordinary Life and Exceptional Legacy
Alan Jobe, MD, PhD, has been a beloved member of the Cincinnati Children’s family since 1997. He’s an emeritus professor of pediatrics and a neonatologist who made our health system his professional home after a prolific career at other prestigious institutions like the UCLA School of Medicine.
When asked about his decision to move to Cincinnati Children’s, he described a “remarkable institution with a tremendous perinatal program that heavily reinvested in research. We probably have the biggest basic research program devoted to lung developmental biology in the world,” he said. “I felt I could do good work here.”
As was ever the case throughout his career, Alan was right. In his decades at Cincinnati Children’s, generations of patients have benefitted from life-saving care based on his groundbreaking discoveries.
A Legendary Influence
Alan’s influence as a mentor and teacher to medical students, pediatric resident trainees, postdoctoral fellows and faculty scientists has put Cincinnati Children’s at the forefront of neonatology and maternal-fetal medicine.
“Alan’s impact cannot be overstated,” says Jim Greenberg, MD, who has worked side-by-side with him in our Perinatal Institute since its inception. “A gifted thinker and communicator, he transformed the lives of countless patients and families through his work. He’s also an outstanding educator. He has the innate ability to inspire curiosity, joy and rigor around all aspects of our academic mission.”
With his distinguished record of service to neonatal-perinatal medicine, obstetrics and physiology, Alan remains one of the most highly cited clinician-scientists in pediatrics. He’s authored 437 original peer-reviewed articles and 262 editorials that are used worldwide by physicians and academics to inform clinical practice and research. The depth and breadth of his work has had a profound impact on modern medical care.
One of his most groundbreaking discoveries is defining the pharmacology of pulmonary surfactant, which can help babies with underdeveloped lungs breathe better. His work led to its approval by the FDA, giving preterm newborns a safe and effective therapy for respiratory distress syndrome. The tiniest, most vulnerable babies all over the world have taken breaths they wouldn’t have thanks to Alan’s work.
His work also provides the basis for current neonatal resuscitation techniques, including the Neonatal Resuscitation Program protocols as well as international efforts like the Helping Babies Breathe program.
“It was a great day for Cincinnati Children’s and our program in Neonatology-Pulmonary Biology when Alan joined us more than 25 years ago,” says his longtime colleague, Jeff Whitsett, MD. “He’s the preeminent thought leader in neonatology—he’s the ‘go-to’ neonatologist for neonatologists throughout the world.”
Passion that Powers Philanthropy
Even as he fights his personal battle with brain cancer, Alan is committed to advancing research that will give the tiniest of babies the best chance of a bright future. Working with our colleagues on the Legacy Planning team in the Department of Development, he made a generous gift from his estate to establish the Alan H. Jobe, MD, PhD, Endowed Chair of Neonatology.
The endowed fund will support a junior MD and/or PhD faculty member at our Perinatal Institute, allowing them to pursue research related to the health outcomes of babies born prematurely.
Alan’s gift ensures that Cincinnati Children’s will remain a leader in neonatology, pulmonary biology and perinatal discovery—a fitting tribute to a man whose pioneering work made an immeasurable impact on the lives of preterm babies across the world.
By providing for Cincinnati Children’s out of his estate, Alan joined many of his esteemed colleagues as a member of the William Cooper Procter Legacy Society—a special group of donors who plan to invest in the health system through legacy gifts—wills, trusts, life insurance and more.
“Without philanthropy, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” says our president and CEO, Steve Davis, MD, MMM. “The generosity of those who share our vision has helped catapult us to being the nation’s best pediatric hospital and research center.”
Alan’s influence on Cincinnati Children’s and medical care across the world extends well beyond the generosity of his estate. “Dr. Jobe’s impact on pediatrics and the broader practice of medicine has been substantial throughout his career,” says Jim. “He’s made the world a better place and done so with an astute combination of intelligence, wit, passion, and clarity of thought.”
An Unparalleled Legacy of Care
After receiving the Daniel Drake Medal in 2020, the highest honor given by the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Alan said that passion for his work is what drives and sustains him.
“You have to have the motivation to pursue what you say you want to pursue. It’s deeply satisfying to know that, through my work, I’ve played a role in helping more kids enjoy a longer and better quality of life.”
Thanks to the generosity of Alan and his wife Helgi, Alan’s extraordinary dedication to caring for infants and kids will continue on. Because of the legacy of one extraordinary man, countless children will lead better lives.
"Alan is a gifted thinker and communicator. He transformed the lives of countless patients and families through his work."
Jim Greenberg, MD
Jim Greenberg, MD (left), unveils the newly established Alan H. Jobe, MD, PhD, Endowed Chair of Neonatology, as Alan and his wife, Helgi, look on.