Dr. Bruce Beckwith ranks among history's most illustrious pediatric pathologists, forever etching his
name into pediatric renal neoplasia, teratology, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
In 1969, Dr. Beckwith became a founding member of the National Wilms Tumor Study and Director of its
Pathology Center. His personal examination of >12,000 renal tumors resulted in >100
publications, many now landmarks that link his name with Wilms. He was the first to recognize
rhabdoid tumor, metanephric adenofibroma, metanephric stromal tumor, and histologic variants of clear
cell sarcoma of kidney and mesoblastic nephroma, as well as ascertaining the prognostic significance
of anaplasia in nephroblastoma, and the recognition and significance of intralobar nephrogenic rests.
In 1963, while a fellow, he identified a new syndrome now bearing his name that provides insights into
overgrowth disorders and pediatric neoplasia. Presently, he is completing an illustrated bibliography
of descriptive teratology.
In 1969, Dr. Beckwith created the first definition of SIDS and eased the grieving of countless
parents surviving this tragedy. The authors of The Death of Innocents
accurately describe Dr. Beckwith as a physician of moral courage and intellectual integrity.
Born in 1933 and raised in St. Ignatius, MT, Dr. Beckwith graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Whitman
College in 1954. In 1958 he received his MD (Alpha Omega Alpha) from the University of Washington
(UW) where he was a Pediatric Intern. He trained in general pathology at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital
in Los Angeles, and in pediatric pathology at Children's Hospital, Los Angeles. Dr. Beckwith
returned to UW as an Assistant Professor in 1964 becoming Professor of Pathology & Pediatrics in
1974, and was Director of Laboratories at Children's Orthopedic Hospital. Subsequently, he was
Professor of Pathology & Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of
Medicine, and Chair of Pathology at Denver Children's Hospital until 1999. Dr. Beckwith was
Professor of Pathology & Human Anatomy at Loma Linda University until retirement in 1999, now
serving as Adjunct Professor.
Dr. Beckwith has been honored with a Sc.D (Whitman College; Distinguished Alumnus Award (UW School of
Medicine; President and Sidney Farber Lecture Award of the Society for Pediatric Pathology; Fred W.
Stewart Medal (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Honorary Fellow of the UK Royal College of
Pathologists; and NIH Astute Clinician Award. He is the first non-radiologist to become an honorary
member of the American Society for Pediatric Radiology, and the first pathologist to become an
honorary member of the American Pediatric Surgical Association.
He has given the Royal Alexandra Hospital RDK Reye Memorial Lecture, Sydney, Australia; Society for
Pediatric Radiology EBD Neuhauser lecture; American Society for Pediatric Urology John Lattimer
Lecture; American Urological Association Meredith Campbell Lecture; Johns Hopkins University William
B. Shelley Lecture; Yale University William Barriss McAllister Jr. Memorial Lecture; and the American
Pediatric Surgical Association Robert E. Gross Memorial Lecture.
His memberships included the SPP, International Society for Pediatric Oncology, Teratology Society,
Arthur Purdy Stout Society of Surgical Pathologists, USCAP, and CAP. Dr. Beckwith served as
editorial board member and/or reviewer for the Journal of Pediatric Surgery; Teratology; Pediatric and
Developmental Pathology; Journal of Urologic Pathology; Modern Pathology, and Medical and Pediatric
Dr. Beckwith inspired his fellows, urged them to consult European literature of the 1800s when
confronted with "new" findings, and reminded us of the impact of our diagnoses on the patients.
Dr. Henry F. Krous, a former fellow, prepared this biosketch.