College mourns loss of Dr. Carl Osborne, father of the Minnesota Urolith Center

March 6, 2017

Dr. Carl Osborne, College of Veterinary Medicine professor and founder of the Minnesota Urolith Center, passed away peacefully on March 5 surrounded by his family and best friend, Chloe, his longtime service dog.

Dr. Osborne was a member of the College of Veterinary Medicine faculty for 53 years. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 17, 1940, he earned his DVM from Purdue University in 1964, joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine the same year, and earned his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1970.

His clinical specialty was internal medicine, with emphasis on nephrology and urology. He began the Minnesota Urolith Center “on a shoestring” in 1981. Later funded by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, it has since analyzed more than one million stones sent from around the world and continues to research the prevention of and cures for diseases of the urinary system in companion animals under the leadership of Osborne’s colleague, Dr. Jody Lulich.

Osborne earned more than 50 teaching and research awards over the course of his career, and was the inaugural recipient of the Robert R. Shomer Award for outstanding achievements in veterinary medical ethics in 2005. He also held several leadership positions, including chair of the Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department from 1976 to 1984. In recognition of his extraordinary career, the College of Veterinary Medicine created the Osborne-Hills Chair in Nephrology and Urology in 1998.

He was also one of the college’s One Health pioneers and innovators in comparative medicine. Osborne’s revolutionary work in the dissolution of urinary tract stones in dogs, cats, and humans began with funding from the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

“At that time, paralyzed veterans had indwelling catheters, and they developed urinary tract infections that led to the formation of stones,” he explained in a 2012 interview about One Health in Profiles, the college magazine. “We first developed the model in dogs, but once you can dissolve stones in one species, it opens up the dissolution of stones in all species.”

Despite his many accomplishments, Dr. Osborne will be most remembered for his compassion, faith, and advice to “keep smiling.” One of his favorite quotes was “What we do for ourselves dies with us, but what we do for others lives on.”

“My fondest memory of Carl is from an internal medicine meeting in San Diego,” Lulich recalls. “We were walking to find a place for dinner. We passed a homeless man begging. His clothes were soiled, the hair on his head and face disheveled, unkempt, and filled with debris. Carl asked if he was hungry. When the man said yes, we walked him back to our hotel and Carl treated him to dinner in the fanciest restaurant. The veterinary profession—no, the world—is smaller today. Carl Osborne died."

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