James C. Sisson

Lives Lived

James C. Sisson, M.D.

Spring 2018
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James C. Sisson (M.D. 1954, Residency 1958), professor emeritus of internal medicine, died October 5, 2017. After serving as a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1958 to 1960, Sisson joined the U-M Medical School faculty. He practiced nuclear medicine for 40 years before retiring in 2000, and, working in outpatient care, remained active for another eight years as an emeritus professor. 

Sisson introduced new uses for radioisotopes in the diagnosis and therapeutics of thyroid and adrenal disorders. He attracted patient referrals from distant medical centers and contributed important publications as a leader in the diagnosis of benign and malignant diseases of endocrine organs. At the same time, he filled an important teaching role with medical students and house officers who graded him highly as a model physician. In 1991, the Michigan Chapter of the American College of Physicians honored him with its prestigious Laureate Award. 

Throughout his career, he received numerous awards, in-cluding election into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Society, the Kaiser Permanente Teaching Award for clinical education, and the U-M Dean’s Faculty Award for Lifetime Achievement in Medical Education. In 2006, Sisson wrote Passing Tribute: Medical Practice 1950–1960, Looking Back 50 Years, a collection of vignettes that chronicles the evolution of medical practices and treatments. 

In 2008, Sisson and his wife, Doris, established the Sisson Endowed Fund for Research and Teaching of Clinical Practice to advance the development of sound clinical judgment based on astute use of the patient history and physical examination. 

This obituary, originally published on MLive.com, has been edited for clarity and length.