Charles Kilo, MD, a former professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Lipid Research at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, died of pneumonia March 15, 2021, in Naples, Fla. He was 94.
Kilo and collaborators at the School of Medicine were among the first to demonstrate that diabetes complications are linked to the duration of the disease and the degree of blood sugar control. An early advocate for aggressive monitoring and control of blood glucose, Kilo challenged past treatment methods and the safety of blood glucose lowering agents. He pushed for regular measurement of glycated hemoglobin to track glucose levels in the blood. In subsequent years, measurement of so-called hemoglobin A1c became the standard in diabetes care.
“Dr. Kilo made significant contributions to the care of patients with diabetes,” said Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor and head of the Department of Medicine. “He was deeply committed to diabetes education and established an annual symposium to disseminate scientific discoveries and diabetes-related research to physicians, scientists and trainees. In addition, we are very grateful for his philanthropic support through the Kilo Diabetes Foundation.”
In 1972, Kilo and Joseph R. Williamson, MD, founded the Kilo Diabetes & Vascular Research Foundation, a philanthropic organization committed to research and education. With the goal of finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes, which Kilo referred to as “a metabolic cancer,” the foundation has since supported the Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Laboratory and the Charles Kilo Chair for Type 2 Diabetes and Nutrition at Washington University, as well as the annual Kilo Diabetes Symposium, a forum to educate the medical community about research and clinical practice in diabetes, as well as other endocrine and cardiovascular diseases.
“Dr. Kilo will be remembered for major contributions to Washington University and to the international diabetes community,” said Clay F. Semenkovich, MD, the Irene E. and Michael M. Karl Professor and director of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Lipid Research at the School of Medicine. “He was a passionate and high-profile advocate for tight control of blood glucose long before this approach became routine. Through his foundation, he supported research at the university, but perhaps most importantly, he was a tireless practitioner well into his 80s, providing compassionate care for his patients with diabetes.”
Kilo’s association with the university began in 1952, after his service in the U.S. Air Force. He was a captain at the time of his discharge from active duty but went on to become a major in the Air Force Reserves.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Washington University in 1955 and a medical degree at the School of Medicine in 1959. He completed his residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis and a fellowship in preventive medicine at what was then Barnes Hospital, training under William H. Daughaday, MD, David M. Kipnis, MD, and Paul E. Lacy, MD, PhD. He joined the faculty in 1963 as a research instructor and clinical investigator and became a full professor of clinical medicine in 1993.
He served as a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, for whom he chaired the Missouri chapter. That organization honored him with its Outstanding Clinical Endocrinologist Award in 2010. In 1998, he received the university’s 2nd Century Award, and in 2008, the Academy of Science — St. Louis honored Kilo with the Monsanto Award for his leadership in the development of young scientists and advancement of science in the St. Louis region.
Kilo is survived by his children Karen Kilo Beckman (Brian), Charles (Linda), Kathy Kilo Peterson and Robert Kilo (Kathy); brothers John (Susan) and Joseph (Teena) Kilo; sisters Georgette Kilo and Mary (Joseph) Ojile; and six grandchildren.
A memorial will be held at a later date. Until then, condolences may be sent to John A. Kilo; 5840 Oakland Ave.; St. Louis, MO 63110.
Donations may be made to Washington University for the Charles Kilo Diabetes Research Laboratory Fund and mailed to Washington University in St. Louis; University Advancement; MSC 1247; 7425 Forsyth Boulevard; St. Louis, MO 63105.