Robert B. Couch, MD

Robert Couch

Title: Professor Emeritus
Company: Baylor College of Medicine
Location: Galveston, Texas, United States

Robert B. Couch, MD, Professor Emeritus of the Baylor College of Medicine, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements and leadership in medicine.

With over 60 years of professional experience, Dr. Couch is an expert in acute respiratory diseases. He most recently was an adjunct professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston from 2013 to 2019. Prior to this position, he spent over four decades with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, beginning as an associate professor in 1966 and progressing to full Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Medicine in 1971. During his considerable tenure, he also spent time as head of the Infectious Diseases Section of the Department of Internal Medicine, chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, director of the Influenza Research Center, the acute viral respiratory unit, and the director of the Center for Infection and Immunity Research. He served as a Distinguished Service Professor and Professor of Molecular Virology, Microbiology and Medicine until he obtained emeritus status in 2012.

Early on in his career, Dr. Couch spent roughly a decade with the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC. He was first hired as a Clinical Associate in 1957, after completing his medical internship at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In 1959, he returned to the medical center to complete a residency from 1959 to 1961, spending his final year as the chief resident physician in medicine. He then went back to continue research at the National Institutes of Health, serving as senior investigator from 1961 to 1965 and as head of the clinical virology section from 1965 to 1966.

Attributing much of his success to the good opportunities he received from hard work and intelligence, Dr. Couch also feels incredibly grateful to his wife’s patience and tolerance during the many long days of work including many weekends. Having continued to learn throughout his career, he feels he learned his most important lessons during medical school and endeavored to pass on that knowledge and experience to his students. Above all, Dr. Couch thinks his time as leader of a large clinical research program on acute respiratory diseases was his most notable contribution to medicine.

Alongside his primary career responsibilities, Dr. Couch has contributed his skills on research advisory panels and as an infectious consultant for the National Institutes of Health, The United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and various others. An accomplished clinical researcher, he has worked researching respiratory diseases, mechanisms of airborne respiratory disease transmission, clinical influenza and vaccines. He did a considerable amount of work on influenza vaccines, including that leading to the high-dose vaccine. As a result of his research, he has been a regular contributor to professional journals, including publishing “Viral Infectious Diseases of Humans, Particularly Influenza, Pathogenesis, Immunity and Vaccine.”

In order to keep abreast of developments in his field and when honored by membership, Dr. Couch has maintained affiliation with a number of professional organizations throughout the years. He holds memberships with the American College of Physicians, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Society of Immunologists, and the American Society of Clinical Investigation. Other organizations include the American Society of Epidemiology, the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Federation for Medical Research.

Inspired by his father, a country physician in Alabama, Dr. Couch found a particular interest in science during his high school years. He had many wonderful teachers, as well as a sister who was a college professor. It was his sister that suggested he should go to Vanderbilt University and career interest and capability testing. Testing particularly strong in math, science, and people interactions, he was recommended to take a pre-medical path and he never looked back. Staying with Vanderbilt University for the entirety of his education, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1952 and a Doctor of Medicine in 1956. Post graduate training led to being certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

For excellence in his career, Dr. Couch has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades. Notably, he was presented with the Charles Merieux Award from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases in 2011. He is also the recipient of the Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by Marquis Who’s Who. In light of all his accomplishments, he has previously been featured in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, and Who’s Who in the World.

Dr. Couch was born in Guntersville, Alabama, to father Ezekiel Harvey Couch and mother Frances Jane Barnard. Happily married to his wife, Katherine Frances Klein since 1955, he lauds her as being a great wife, a great mother and so easy to live with. Together they are the proud parents of four children, Robert Steven, Leslie Ann, Colleen Frances and Elizabeth Lee, and grandparents of 10 grandchildren.

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